Fructose malabsorption in children with functional digestive disorders

Arq Gastroenterol. Jul-Sep 2013;50(3):226-30. doi: 10.1590/S0004-28032013000200040.


Context: Fructose is a monosaccharide frequently present in natural and artificial juice fruits. When the concentration of fructose in certain food is present in excess of glucose concentration some individuals may develop fructose malabsorption.

Objectives: To report the frequency of fructose malabsorption utilizing the hydrogen breath test in children with gastrointestinal and/or nutritional disorders.

Methods: Between July 2011 and July 2012, 43 patients with gastrointestinal and/or nutritional disorders, from both sexes, were consecutively studied, utilizing the hydrogen breath test with loads of the following carbohydrates: lactose, glucose, fructose and lactulose. Fructose was offered in a 10% aqueous solution in the dose of 1 g/kg body weight. Samples were collected fasting and at every 15 minutes after the intake of the aqueous solution for a 2 hour period. Malabsorption was considered when there was an increase of >20 ppm of hydrogen over the fasting level, and intolerance was diagnosed if gastrointestinal symptoms would appear.

Results: The age of the patients varied from 3 months to 16 years, 24 were boys. The following diagnosis were established: irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea in 16, functional abdominal pain in 8, short stature in 10, lactose intolerance in 3, celiac disease in 1, food allergy in 1 and giardiasis in 1 patient. Fructose malabsorption was characterized in 13 (30.2%) patients, and intolerance in 1 (2.3%) patient. The most frequent fructose malabsorption was characterized in 7 (16.3%) patients with irritable bowel syndrome and in 4 (9.3%) patients with functional abdominal pain.

Conclusions: Patients with irritable bowel syndrome and functional abdominal pain were the main cause of fructose malabsorption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Breath Tests
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fructose / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / complications
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology


  • Fructose