What is Short Bowel Syndrome?

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) is a malabsorption disorder which occurs when more than two-thirds of the small intestine is missing. With SBS, vitamins and minerals are not absorbed normally through the small intestine, resulting in many vitamin deficiencies. These deficiencies cause other problems such as anemia, bruising, muscle spasms, and bone pain.

What are the causes?

  • Surgical removal of the small intestine due to Crohn’s disease, tumors, injury or severe tissue damage
  • Missing a significant portion of the small intestine at birth

Treatments for Short Bowel Syndrome:

  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Lactase supplement (to prevent bloating associated with lactose intolerance)
  • Medication to reduce stomach acid
  • Surgery – to lengthen, taper or transplant the small bowel
  • Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) – nutrition given via IV
  • Nutrition given via feeding tube

What can I do?

  • Speak with your child’s doctor about what treatment(s) would be most beneficial to your child
  • Follow treatments for other diseases or disorders associated with your child’s SBS


It is important to remember the health information found on this Web site is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or steatorrhea (oily or sticky stool)
  • Fluid retention
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Fatigue


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