Developmental changes and fructose absorption in children: effect on malabsorption testing and dietary management

Nutr Rev. 2013 May;71(5):300-9. doi: 10.1111/nure.12020.


Fructose malabsorption came to prominence in the pediatric arena as so-called "apple juice diarrhea," with excess consumption of fructose being linked to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. Over the past two decades the amount of fructose in children's diets has been increasing in the United States. A test for fructose malabsorption has yet to be fully validated, due mainly to the lack of an established etiology. In animal models, however, the fructose transporter GLUT5 is developmentally regulated, and this could be consistent with the greater susceptibility of children, especially toddlers, to fructose malabsorption. Additionally, the available evidence indicates the fructose breath hydrogen test has no apparent diagnostic utility in infants younger than 1 year; it may, therefore, be advisable to test for malabsorption by dietary exclusion in these patients. The present review aims to expound on the biological basis for fructose malabsorption in children and evaluate the current evidence for diagnostic procedures in order to identify clinical testing strategies that can be recommended and areas where further investigation is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breath Tests
  • Fructose / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 5 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Lactose Intolerance / diagnosis*
  • Lactose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacokinetics*


  • Glucose Transporter Type 5
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose
  • Hydrogen