A test meal for assessing the intraluminal phase of absorption in childhood has been validated. 132 test meals were administered to 110 patients aged 2 weeks to 18 years (mean age 4.3 years). 10 children with suspected malabsorption, who were proven to be normal after extensive investigation, constituted the control group. The activities of pancreatic enzymes, and the total and individual bile salt concentrations are presented for the control subjects, and pancreatic enzyme levels in this group are compared with those seen in children with pancreatic insufficiency (cystic fibrosis). The test meal has been designed so that it can be administered to children with suspected gluten, cows' milk, or disaccharide intolerance. The control data provided a basis for the interpretation of information obtained from the application of such a test meal to the clinical investigation of children with suspected malabsorption.
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