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Malabsorption is difficulty in the digestion or absorption of nutrients from food substances.


Malabsorption can result from a broad spectrum of diseases. Typically, malabsorption can be the failure to absorb specific sugars, fats, proteins, or vitamins, or it can be a general malabsorption of food. Diarrhea, bloating or cramping, failure to thrive, frequent bulky stools, muscle wasting, and a distended abdomen may accompany malabsorption.

Malabsorption can affect growth and development, or it can lead to specific illnesses. Some of the causes of malabsorption include:

¥ Cystic fibrosis (the number one cause in the U.S.)

¥ Chronic pancreatitis

¥ Lactose intolerance

¥ Celiac disease (gluten-induced-enteropathy, sprue)

¥ Whipple disease

¥ Shwachman-Diamond syndrome

¥ Bovine lactalbumin intolerance (cow's milk protein)

¥ Soy milk protein intolerance

¥ Acrodermatitis enteropathica causing zinc malabsorption

¥ Biliary atresia

¥ Abetalipoproteinemia

¥ Vitamin B-12 malabsorption may be due to:

Diphyllobothrium latum infestation

Juvenile pernicious anemia

¥ Parasites

Giardia lamblia

Strongyloides stercoralis (threadworm)

Necator americanus (hookworm)

Conventional Labs

Prealbumin is the best marker of malnutrition.

Malabsorption can cause nutritional deficiency: carotene, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E





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