Miralax and my Three-Year-Old (Hint: Don’t Ever Use It)

If you’ve read the story about formula-feeding a dairy-intolerant baby, it will be no surprise to you that my oldest son has been chronically constipated for his entire life. It was easy enough to manage as a baby, and even early into his toddler years, with probiotics, gas drops, and extra leafy greens tucked into dinner and smoothies. But as he grew, he became increasingly picky, making it much more difficult to get the things into his body that would help his tummy. Slowly, we inched our way back to those screaming-while-pooping episodes he had as a baby before the formula switch, despite our efforts to avoid dairy.

He had just turned three when I asked his pediatrician about some things to help at his annual well-visit. I wanted to start with a food sensitivity test to see what, exactly, his body didn’t like that he was eating regularly. I knew he was dairy-sensitive. I suspected he was the same with gluten. The pediatrician’s first recommendation? Miralax. I stopped at the store on the way home and bought it, without doing any research at all as to what it was, or how it worked in children.

The next morning, I gave him his favorite treat in the form of a heaping spoonful of peanut butter to get him nice and thirsty, and also handed him a cup of miralax-water. And I kept giving it to him for the next week. And over that time span? His behavior tanked. Like, scary-tanked. He was acting out in ways he never had before, which led to Jonathan (who was barely 12 months old) screaming in the living room, and me running from the kitchen to find him on the ground. Jordan stood over him, with one foot on his head, holding him down and looking at him without emotion.

Later that evening, I was talking to my sister on the phone about his ongoing constipation. I hadn’t told her yet about the doctor’s visit when she warned me not to take him in – that they would just put him on the Miralax-poison.

“Wait, what?” I said. “What are you talking about?”

“Google Miralax side-effects in children,” she said. And I did. The very first link was to a 2017 CBS News report titled “Should Parents Be Concerned About Miralax Side Effects in Kids?” And the article snippet? “Families told WPVI-TV that after taking MiraLAX their children experienced mood and behavioral changes, including depression, anger, anxiety, and mood swings. ‘We saw a lot of the anger, a lot of the rage, a lot of the aggression,’ parent Mike Kohler told the station.”

My blood ran cold. I had been pumping Miralax into his tiny little three-year-old body, going off of blind trust in the pediatrician’s recommendation. Meanwhile, there was an actual scientific study conducted on the safety of it, in response to reports that a number of children developed neuropsychiatric problems after taking it.

I dumped it in the trash and cried for two days. Because I was putting that into his body. Because I saw the behavior change. Because I didn’t do my own research, to see with my own two eyes the effects of something I was about to put into my child’s body. And then, I pushed the guilt aside and did my own digging. I found another article similar to the CBS News one in Parents magazine, that contained a link to a private Facebook group called Parents Against Miralax that was then 32,000 members strong. Now? In just over a year, it’s grown to over 45,000 members and contains a wealth of information for natural tips to flush out constipation and also heal the gut long-term.

If your doctor has ever recommended Miralax for your child (or even for yourself), do not take it. Here’s why: the active ingredient (removes everything from your gut. Everything. All the bad bacteria, all the good gut flora, nutrition your body needs from the foods it is digesting, everything. (Never mind those pesky neuropsychiatric problems. 😨)

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Follow Jane's Scripture-digging writings at www.janejohnson.com and at @jane_johnson.