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Reversible Secondary Disaccharidase Deficiency

J. D. Welsh, MD; M. G. Porter, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1967;113(6):716-720. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1967.02090210130016.
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DIETARY disaccharides are hydrolyzed by specific enzymes in the brush border membrane of the small intestinal surface epithelial cells.1 Disaccharide malabsorption may be primary and result from the congenital or acquired absence of a specific functional element of the digestive-absorptive surface or may be secondary and caused by a reduction in the total available digestive-absorptive surface, as a consequence of other disease.2 Young children whose initial symptoms are consistent with gastroenteritis may develop a temporary secondary disaccharidase deficiency associated with intestinal mucosal damage.3 This report will present such a patient and discuss the confusion that may arise in diagnosis, if complete studies are not performed.

Methods  Oral carbohydrate-tolerance tests were performed in a uniform fashion using 2 gm of sugar per kilogram of body weight. The blood sugar was determined in duplicate by the Nelson-Somogyi method4 on samples obtained from the fasting patient and at one-half

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