Short bowel syndrome is usually due to a surgery performed to remove an injured or diseased portion of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract responsible for absorbing nutrients). But it can also be caused by a problem with bowel function that kids may be born with or they may develop as they grow.
When a child has a shortened bowel, food passes too quickly for the small intestine to do its job properly (referred to as intestinal failure). This can cause dehydration, malnourishment, bacterial infections, and poor growth and development.
Some conditions that can result in short bowel syndrome include:
- blood clots (blocked blood flow to the intestine)
- Crohn’s disease (intestinal inflammation or scarring)
- gastroschisis (a hole in the abdominal muscle and skin)
- intestinal atresia (when parts of the intestine are closed or missing)
- intestinal malrotation (when the intestines don’t turn and attach the way they should)
- necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation that causes tissue damage, usually from prematurity)
- omphalocele (a hole in the skin and muscles at the belly button)
- trauma (injury to the intestines, including radiation therapy from cancer treatment)
- tumors (both cancerous and noncancerous)
- volvulus (twisting of the bowels that can stop blood flow to the intestines)