PEG 3350 is a laxative in MiraLax and other over-the-counter medications that treat constipation. Unfortunately, it has been linked to severe neurological injuries and kidney side effects, especially when it is used long-term in children.

What is PEG 3350?

PEG 3350, also known as Polyethylene Glycol 3350, is a powdery substance in many over-the-counter laxatives. It is approved for adults with occasional constipation, up to 7 days at a time, one dose per day.

PEG 3350 and Toxic Antifreeze

PEG 3350 is very similar to Ethylene Glycol (EG), a toxic chemical that is found in antifreeze. However, unlike EG, very little PEG 3350 is absorbed into the bloodstream by the intestines of a healthy adult.

The FDA tested MiraLax and other PEG laxatives in 2008 and 2013, after receiving reports of people who had symptoms very similar to antifreeze poisoning. Both times, the agency found low levels of EG left over from making PEG 3350. The levels were considered safe.

Is It Safe for Children?

No PEG 3350 laxatives are approved for children (or long-term use in anyone) but they are commonly given to children with serious intestinal diseases for years. This is controversial because young children may absorb more than adults, especially very young children who suffer chronic constipation.

What is the Risk?

PEG laxatives are linked to thousands of reports of kidney problems, metabolic acidosis, seizures, neurological, behavioral, and psychiatric events. The FDA safety investigation ended in 2011 with no warnings. Neuropsychiatric events were listed as a “possible side effect.”

Neurological Risks of MiraLax

  • Neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Brain injury
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Epilepsy
  • Psychosis
  • Mood disorders
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Tics
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Aggression
  • Repetitive chewing and sucking
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings

Kidney Risks of MiraLax

  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Nephrotoxicity
  • Kidney damage
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Kidney failure
  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • Oxalate nephropathy
  • Dialysis
  • Kidney transplant
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