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Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Nov;16(9):e68-70.

Does the use of glycerin laxatives decrease feeding intolerance in preterm infants?

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Department of Paediatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital; ; Department of Paediatrics and Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto;



Glycerin laxatives are often prescribed in the neonatal population for meconium evacuation and to promote enteral feeding. However, the literature regarding their effectiveness has not been systematically reviewed.


To assess the effectiveness of glycerin enema or suppository in preventing feeding intolerance in preterm infants at ≤32 weeks' gestational age or weighing ≤1500 g at birth.


The Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus and Web of Science databases were searched to identify studies that evaluated glycerin enemas/suppositories for feeding intolerance. Using the Evidence Evaluation Worksheet adapted from the American Heart Association's International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, eligible studies were scored for quality, level of evidence and direction of support.


Two clinical studies that evaluated meconium evacuation and feeding intolerance were included. One study showed no difference in the time to complete meconium evacuation or establishment of full enteral feeds, while the other showed that the times to first meconium passage and full enteral feeding were significantly shorter, and the rate of sepsis was lower in the glycerin enema group.


The evidence regarding the effectiveness of glycerin laxatives for improving feeding tolerance is inconclusive in infants at ≤32 weeks' gestational age or weighing ≤1500 g at birth.


Feeding tolerance; Glycerin enema; Glycerin suppository; Glycerol; Newborn infant


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