Polyethylene Glycol With Electrolytes Safely Treats Constipation in Children Aged Less Than 2 Years

Investigators analyzed the usage and risk profile of PEG+E in children aged less than 2 years.

Use of polyethylene glycol with electrolytes (PEG+E) for the treatment of chronic constipation among children appeared to be safe in a retrospective, single exposure cohort study. These findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

Children (n=13,275) aged <2 years prescribed PEG 3350+E from September 2003 to July 2019 in the United Kingdom were identified from the Clinical Research Practice Datalink database. Patients were prescribed PEG 3350+E for constipation (n=13,235) or fecal impaction (n=40), and assessed for adverse events.

The patients who received treatment for constipation were aged between 12 and <24 months (70.9%), 56.8% were female, and median weight was 9.3 (interquartile range [IQR], 7.4-11.0) kg. The children were prescribed a single (6.9 g) sachet (70.5%), 1.5 sachets (13.9%), or 2 sachets (15.3%). Younger patients tended to be prescribed lower doses.

During treatment, 25.2% reported constipation-related symptoms, of whom 50.9% were concomitant users of laxatives. Patients also reported fatigue (62.0%), shortness of breath (23.2%), seizure/loss of consciousness (13.3%), dehydration (7.6%), confusion (4.6%), vomiting (4.1%), diarrhea (3.0%), potential electrolyte disturbance (2.0%), and abdominal pain (0.5%).

The patients who received treatment for fecal impaction were prescribed a 2-sachet dose (17.5%) or 1-sachet dose (12.5%). During treatment, 30.0% used concomitant stimulant laxatives and 22.5% used osmotic laxatives. Most patients reported constipation-related symptoms (57.5%).

This study was limited by potential missing information in the database from which these data were sourced and the assumption that all children prescribed medication used the drug as instructed.

The authors concluded that PEG 3350+E appeared to be safe for the treatment of constipation among children aged <2 years. There was not enough power to conclude whether or not children with fecal impaction may safely use this product. Additional studies are needed to assess treatment intake by weight to determine optimal dosing of PEG+E.

Disclosure: Multiple authors declared industry affiliations. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.

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Roy D, Akriche F, Amlani B, et al. Utilisation and safety of polyethylene glycol 3350 with electrolytes in children under 2 years: a retrospective cohort. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. Published online February 9, 2021. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000003074.