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Polyethylene Glycol: A Game-Changer Laxative for Children

Alper, Arik; Pashankar, Dinesh S.

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: August 2013 - Volume 57 - Issue 2 - p 134–140
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318296404a
Invited Reviews

ABSTRACT Constipation is a common problem in children worldwide. It can also be a chronic problem persisting for many months to years. Successful treatment of constipation requires long-term use of laxatives. Commonly used laxatives in children include milk of magnesia, lactulose, mineral oil, and polyethylene glycol. Compared with other laxatives, polyethylene glycol (with and without electrolytes) is a relatively new laxative used during the last decade. Recent studies report excellent efficacy and safety of polyethylene glycol for the long-term treatment of constipation in children. Because of excellent patient acceptance, polyethylene glycol has become a preferred choice of laxative for many practitioners. This article reviews the recently published pediatric literature on biochemistry, efficacy, safety, patient acceptance, and pharmacoeconomics of polyethylene glycol.

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dinesh S. Pashankar, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, LMP 4093, New Haven, CT 06520 (e-mail:

Received 11 March, 2013

Accepted 3 April, 2013

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,