The small intestine is a major organ of digestive system and functions in absorbing nutrients from the food. When the small intestine is unable to perform its function, malabsorption occurs. Malabsorption is caused due to damage of the intestinal wall by some parasite, bacteria or virus. The intestine is unable to absorb nutrients from the food resulting in nutrient loss and imbalance in the body. Some diseases like Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), lactose intolerance, or diseases related to bowel movement can also cause malabsorption.

Usually, malabsorption in children lasts for a few days because the intestinal wall heals quickly. In other cases, malabsorption continues for some weeks, and special care needs to be taken in such cases.​​

Following symptoms indicate malabsorption syndrome:

  • Abdominal pain 

  • Vomiting

  • Chronic diarrhoea with foul smelling stool

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Slow growth​​

If you notice any persistent symptoms in your child, consult one of our doctors from the Children's Hospital Service Lines at The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan.​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

The doctor will initiate the diagnosis with assessing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. Then he or she may suggest certain tests which include:

  • Complete Blood count(CBC): One or more parameters related to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets might be affected in this condition, giving a clue towards etiology and further diagnostic approach. Therefore, it is an ancillary test in the diagnostic workup of this disease.​
  • Faecal Fat Test: Tests are performed on stool sample to check if adequate amount of fat is being absorbed by the small intestine or not.

  • Stool Tests: Stool sample is analyzed to determine if the digestive tract has been infected by any harmful microorganism. Other tests may be done to identify any food intolerance or other digestive problems.

  • Lower GI (Gastrointestinal) Series or Barium Enema: Rectum, colon and some parts of small intestine are examined for presence of any obstruction, narrowed areas or other problems. Barium is given to the rectum as enema and a detailed X-ray is conducted.

  • Upper and / or lower GI (Gastrointestinal) endoscopy: Upper or lower part of the intestines maybe examined using an endoscope and biopsies maybe obtained during this examination.​​

Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.

At the Children's Hospital Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital your child is provided gentle care by our compassionate doctors, who are amongst the best in the country. The doctor examines the patient carefully and suggests treatment best for his condition and health. He or she might suggest some of the following for your child:

  • Increased intake of water and other fluids

  • Increased intake of greater nutrients through foods and supplements

  • In more severe cases, other treatments might also be suggested​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​


​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.