Protracted diarrhea and malnutrition in infancy: Changes in intestinal morphology and disaccharidase activities during treatment with total intravenous nutrition or oral elemental diets

J Pediatr. 1975 Nov;87(5):695-704. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(75)80290-3.


Two therapeutic regimens were compared in 16 infants with protracted diarrhea and malnutrition. Eight patients were treated with total parenteral nutrition given via a central vein (group A); the remaining eight patients received a combination of dilute parenteral nutrients given in a peripheral vein plus continuous enteral feedings of an elemental diet (group B). All patients recovered although two infants in group B were switched to TPN treatment after a poor response to the elemental diet. Intestinal biopsies were performed: (1) before treatment; (2) after 2 to 3 weeks of TPN or elemental diet; and (3) after 2 to 3 weeks of Nutramigen feedings. Before treatment, all patients had atrophic changes in the jejunal epithelium and deficient disaccharidase and trypsin activities. The second biopsy showed morphologic recovery in all patients, incomplete recovery of lactase and trypsin in both treatment groups, and complete recovery of sucrase and maltase activities only in group B patients. The third biopsy showed normal morphology and complete recovery of all enzymes measured. The mean number of hospital days was 46 +/- 4.8 for group A and 34 +/- 1.6 for group B (p less than 0.05) suggesting that patients given enteral feedings early tended to have a more rapid return of intestinal function and of some intestinal enzymes.

MeSH terms

  • Diarrhea / diet therapy
  • Diarrhea / therapy*
  • Disaccharidases / deficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / diet therapy
  • Nutrition Disorders / therapy*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Parenteral Nutrition*
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total


  • Disaccharidases