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Malabsorption Disorders in children

Vaccines | Allergies | Obesity | Mental Health | Nutrition | Pediatricians

Malabsorption disorders in children are conditions that interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. These disorders can lead to nutritional deficiencies and a range of symptoms. Here are some key malabsorption disorders that can affect children:

Celiac Disease:

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It damages the small intestine’s lining, impairing nutrient absorption. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.

Cystic Fibrosis:

  • Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that primarily affects the respiratory and digestive systems. It can lead to thick mucus blocking the pancreas, which reduces the release of digestive enzymes. This impairs the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins, leading to malabsorption and poor growth.

Pancreatic Insufficiency:

  • Conditions that affect the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis, can lead to inadequate production of digestive enzymes. This hinders the digestion and absorption of nutrients, particularly fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

Short Bowel Syndrome:

  • Short bowel syndrome occurs when a significant portion of the small intestine is removed or damaged due to surgery, injury, or a congenital condition. The reduced surface area for absorption can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids.

Tropical Sprue:

  • Tropical sprue is a condition primarily seen in tropical regions. It is characterized by chronic diarrhea, malabsorption of nutrients, and inflammation of the small intestine’s lining. It may be triggered by bacterial or parasitic infections.

Lactose Intolerance:

  • Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase. It can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating after consuming dairy.

Bile Acid Malabsorption:

  • Bile acids play a crucial role in fat digestion and absorption. Bile acid malabsorption can occur due to various factors, including surgical removal of the ileum or other gastrointestinal conditions. It results in diarrhea and malabsorption of fats.

Autoimmune Enteropathy:

  • Autoimmune enteropathy is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of the small intestine. It can lead to severe malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and failure to thrive.

Treatment for malabsorption disorders in children typically involves addressing the underlying cause and managing symptoms. This may include dietary modifications, nutritional supplements, enzyme replacement therapy, medications to control symptoms, and, in some cases, surgery. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are essential to prevent nutritional deficiencies and support the child’s growth and development. Children with malabsorption disorders often require ongoing monitoring by healthcare providers and dietitians to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.

The Pediatric.me content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician