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Short Bowel Syndrome

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome?
Short bowel is a condition that causes food malabsorption either because of surgical removal of a portion (half or more) of the small intestine. When a portion of the small intestine, the food is passes the digestive tract faster than needed to absorb nutrients and thus leads to malnutrition. In babies, necrotizing enterocolitis often requires removal of a portion of the small intestine and may lead to short bowel syndrome. Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract, is another condition that may require intestinal surgery and lead to short bowel syndrome.

  • Pale greasy and foul-smelling stools
  • Wight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea 
  • Cramping, bloating


  • Complete blood count, which may reveal anemia
  • Chemistry analysis of the blood to check for malabsorption
  • Fecal test to check for fat in the stool

High-calorie diet to ensure better nutrition
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Medications to prolong food retention in the small intestine
Temporary nutrition via tube in the stomach or vein may be necessary if a child is severely malnourished

When to Call for Help?
If your child develops any of the above symptoms, especially following recent bowel surgery, see your pediatrician.

At Hopkins Children’s, short bowel syndrome is treated by the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

External Links:

National Library of Medicine

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases