Pancreatic insufficiency in children

The first decade of the 21st century was marked by a significant progress in children’s gastroenterology. Diagnostics, treatments and prevention of digestive diseases have been seriously advanced recently. However, there are still a lot of chronic diseases of the digestive system that are a common pathology for both adults and children.

One of the most common diseases of the digestive system is a pancreatic disorder. Despite a wide variety of causes, the clinical picture of the pancreatic problems is pretty common for all cases.

The pancreatic problems are most commonly seen in elderly people, although recent studies have revealed evidence of more frequent cases in children of different ages. Pancreatic insufficiency has a number of certain symptoms. This disease is characterized by deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, which leads to maldigestion or complete inability to digest food. As a result, the body can not break down and absorb the elements that are needed for a proper function of the body.

There are two types of the pancreatic insufficiency: primary and secondary.

The first type normally develops due to so-called unmodified factors, meaning that neither the doctor nor the patient can do anything to the disease (for example, genetic predisposition, Shwachmann syndrome, cystic fibrosis, etc). In clinical practice secondary pancreatic insufficiency occurs more often. Normally, the disease develops due to changes in the diet (especially when unusual products are added to the nutrition in excessive amount), temporary pancreatic disorders, or inflammatory diseases.

Most common clinical symptoms are severe stomachache, reduced appetite (or no appetite at all), nausea and vomiting that do not give a feeling of relief, loose stool, flatulence, streatorrhea.

To diagnose pancreatic insufficiency in children a number of tests have to be taken. Thus, a proper examination includes ultrasonography, tomography, urine and stool tests, biochemical blood test.

If pancreatic insufficiency was diagnosed, a proper treatment has to be prescribed. Management of the disease involves replacement of the pancreatic enzymes, vitamin supplementation and lifestyle modifications.