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Definition Difficulty in the digestion or absorption of nutrients from food substances.
Alternative Names 
Causes, incidence, and risk factors Malabsorption can be the result of a broad spectrum of diseases. Typically, malabsorption can be the failure to absorb specific sugars , fats , proteins , or other nutrients (such as vitamins ), or it can include a general nonspecific 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 can lead to specific illnesses. Some of the causes of malabsorption include:
  • cystic fibrosis
  • (the number one cause in the U.S.)
  • 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 )
  • specific food avoidance
  • chronic
  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • and
  • flatulence (gas)
  • growth failure
  • Signs and tests
  • See the individual conditions.
  • Treatment See the individual conditions.
    Support Groups 
    Expectations (prognosis) See the individual conditions.
    Complications Prolonged malabsorption can result in malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
    Calling your health care provider Call to make an appointment with your health care provider if you notice symptoms of malabsorption.
    Prevention See the individual conditions.

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