Proximal small intestinal mucosal biopsies were carried out in children with cystic fibrosis who had diarrhoea and failed to thrive in spite of adequate treatment, including pancreatic supplements. Histological examination of eight of the 17 biopsies taken over a period of 12 years showed evidence of enteropathy, and accounted for one in 13 (8%) children with cystic fibrosis under 3 years of age attending our clinic. Seven responded to a cows' milk free diet; the diarrhoea stopped and weight gain increased. One of these responded only when gluten was also excluded from his diet. The eighth child remained on a normal diet and his symptoms did not improve. The enteropathy had resolved in all five patients who had further biopsies taken while receiving treatment, and from 15 months to 3 years of age all the children tolerated a normal diet and continued to thrive. Cows' milk sensitive enteropathy is an important cause of failure to thrive in children with cystic fibrosis. Small intestinal biopsy is an important investigation in younger children who fail to thrive and have diarrhoea despite adequate treatment.
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