Fructose Intolerance in Children Presenting With Abdominal Pain

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We determined the occurrence of fructose malabsorption in pediatric patients with previous diagnoses of abdominal pain caused by a functional bowel disorder, whether the restriction of fructose intake changes the reporting of symptoms, the role of fructose dosage, and the severity of resultant symptoms.

Patients and Methods:

We administered a fructose breath test to children presenting with persistent unexplained abdominal pain. Patients randomly received 1, 15, or 45 g fructose, and breath hydrogen was measured for 3 hours after ingestion. Test results were positive when breath hydrogen was 20 ppm greater than baseline and was accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms.


A total of 32 patients was enrolled, and none of the 9 who received 1 g had positive results. Three of 10 who received 15 g and 8 of 13 who received 45 g had positive results. All patients with positive test results restricted their fructose intake. Among the group with positive results, 9 of 11 had rapid improvement of their gastrointestinal symptoms. After 2 months, all 9 patients continued to report improvement.


We concluded that fructose malabsorption may be a significant problem in children and that management of dietary intake can be effective in reducing gastrointestinal symptoms.

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