Malabsorption occurs when there is an abnormality in the absorption of nutrients across the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It can occur when a single nutrient or several are not absorbed properly from the gastrointestinal tract. Malabsorption can cause malnutrition and growth failure.
Symptoms vary and include diarrhea or steatorrhoea (excess fat in the stool), bloating, flatulence and stomach discomfort. Other symptoms include weight loss (even when eating the correct amount of calories), delayed puberty in children, swelling of body parts from loss of protein and anemia from vitamin deficiencies.