The absorption of D-xylose infused into the duodenum was assessed in infants with acute gastroenteritis. 1-hour blood-xylose levels were low in 6 patients found to harbour rotavirus in the small intestinal aspirate. Normal levels (greater than 1-26 mmol/l) were obtained in the absence of virus particles in the small intestine in a further 6 patients: in 3 of these adenovirus or rotavirus was recovered from the stools. Three patients with adenovirus in the small intestinal juice and ill with acute gastroenteritis also had low xylose levels. This finding supports earlier epidemiological studies that adenovirus may be a causative agent of acute infantile gastroenteritis. The association between virus in the small intestine and xylose malabsorption may indicate mucosal damage. Formal proff of this is awaited.
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