Hudson Valley Parent

HVP May 2015

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Page 36 of 45 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 35 anxiety, lethargy, aggression, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. The alternatives however, are far from perfect. Dr. Gupta says he will often prescribe a sugar-based drug known as Lactulose for parents wary of Miralax, but the drug can cause painful bloating and abdominal dis- tention. Magnesium Citrate is anoth- er alternative, but the taste is so bad that children often refuse to take it. "There are lots of options, and none of them are great," says Dr. Gupta. "They all have side effects. So we're all waiting on the data from this new study to see what happens." In the meantime, what's a parent to do? Dr. Gupta suggests that the best medicine to take may be no medicine at all. "If you don't have to use medi- cines, it's always better to avoid us- ing them," he says. Instead, start by changing your child's diet: Decrease dairy, increase high fiber vegetables, and drink plenty of liquids — espe- cially prune juice. These will help to soften the stool itself. And the psy- chological elements behind chronic constipation are just as important as the physical elements. Dr. Gupta also recommends having your child always sit on the toilet after meals, when their colon is the most active. But don't put any pressure on them: Just tell them they only need to sit there for five minutes, and that they don't have to actually go if they really don't need to. Sometimes though, they may end up surprising themselves. If, after all this, your child is still having chronic problems, then it's time to pay a visit to your doctor. "If you can avoid Miralax, that's great," says Dr. Gupta. "But there are many children who do end up needing medication." He says he's most optimistic about the newest crop of adult laxatives like Linzess that appear to be rela- tively free of side effects, and he's hoping that the FDA will look into doing the requisite studies to deter- mine if they're also safe for children. But until the data comes in, par- ents may want to deal with constipat- ed kids the old fashioned way: Lots of veggies, lots of liquids; and a calm- ing, supportive environment at home. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good prescription for kids who aren't constipated, too. Brain PJ Cronin is a freelance writer living with his family in Beacon. "If you don't have to use medicines, it's better to avoid them." — Dr. Puneet Gupta 5 A healthy pregnancy ? 5 Being a new parent? 5 Your baby's health? 5 Raising a strong family? We have answers! Our dedicated health specialists will help you with your new parenting questions and bring answers right to your home! If you are expecting or have a new baby, now is the time to call. It's free! Call 1-800-811-3914 u l s t e r c o u n t y h e a l t h y f a m ili e s a program of Do you have questions about... Healthy Families New York supported by

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