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Poison PEG

 So Ronan had debatable levels of anemia, and doctors couldn’t agree on how to treat it. One pediatrician suggested we increase spinach and lentils and other iron-rich foods. But that wasn’t the first doctor we saw. The first doctor ordered iron drops.

If you didn’t click on that link, the short story is that the iron drops caused Ronan a lot of pain, especially when he pooed, and eventually he needed a laxative. So the Pediatric GI we saw put him on Miralax. The chemical name for Miralax is Polyethylene Glycol (PEG). Our regular pediatrician had recommended this, but we wanted to consult a specialist. Ronan hates the specialist because his first visit was quite painful as he performed a comprehensive physical. (I’ll leave the details to your imagination.)

We gave him the generic Miralax, which was cheaper with our prescription plan. We had three pediatricians recommending it, so I was pretty confident that this was an okay drug. “I give it to my own kids.” One of the pediatricians told me.

It’s probably not an okay drug for anyone. Well, the drug is fine, but the manufacturing process is not. Part of the process of making PEG involves 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. Even the CDC says it’s not particularly healthy, and may cause cancer or liver and kidney damage.

Yipes. YIPES! (I’d swear here but people have told me I swear too much.)

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics goes further, in a report that was covered by the Washington Post and other newspapers. 1,4-dioxane is banned in the European Union.

None of the three pediatricians knew anything about the CDC report, the Washington Post article or the EU ban.

I contacted the manufacturer of the generic PEG. They responded, basically, by saying that PEG is not approved for use by children, and if we were giving it to our 2-year-old, than any cancer is just not their damn fault. They probably left out the “damn.” They also claimed their levels of 1.4-dioxane is within FDA limits.

The CDC basically disavowed their own web page, saying that they couldn’t state that PEG for children was bad. Or good. “You’ll have to draw your own conclusions.” They offered to have a CDC chemist call me to explain how and why the warning page was written. I’m still waiting for that call.

So we’re freaking out. Ronan is a happy and healthy baby, but if he gets liver or kidney damage somewhere down the line, we will hold ourselves responsible for not checking into the real consequences of PEG. Or maybe move to Europe, where they seem to take these things more seriously.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 21, 2009 4:58 PM.

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