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Lancet. 1991 Oct 12;338(8772):907-10.

Intestinal permeability, mucosal injury, and growth faltering in Gambian infants.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Dunn Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, UK.


There is controversy over whether children in developing countries can catch up on their growth rates after bouts of diarrhoea. A factor influencing catch-up growth is the extent and duration of mucosal injury. To explore the relation between intestinal disease and growth performance, a non-invasive test of intestinal integrity, the lactulose:mannitol permeability test, was done regularly on children aged 2-15 months, whose growth was monitored over a mean of 7.5 months. The study revealed persistent abnormalities in the small bowel mucosa of 2-15 month old Gambian infants and a negative correlation between these abnormalities and growth. Up to 43% of observed growth faltering can be explained on the basis of these long-term intestinal lesions.

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