Pancreatic Insufficiency

The pancreas is responsible for making the body’s digestive enzymes that help break down proteins, sugars and fats from the food we eat. For children with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI, also called pancreatic insufficiency), the pancreas doesn’t produce enough or all of the enzymes. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide specialized gastrointestinal (GI) care for children and teens with pancreatic insufficiency.

What Is Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency?

With EPI, the pancreas does not make enough enzymes to break down the food a child eats.

Children with pancreatic insufficiency may have other conditions, including cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis. EPI also can be caused by other issues, including:

  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Jeune syndrome
  • Pearson marrow-pancreas syndrome
  • Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
  • Surgery

Pancreatic Insufficiency Symptoms

Children with EPI experience symptoms caused by food in the GI tract that is unable to be digested. Symptoms can include:

  • Bloating
  • Cramps and abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea that appears greasy with a foul odor
  • Feeling full
  • Gas
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Weight loss

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Treatment

The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology will work with you and your child to develop a unique EPI care plan. Treatments can include:

  • Enzyme replacement therapy
  • Antacids
  • Pain management
  • Vitamin supplements

Diet modifications also can help with EPI, including eating smaller and more frequent meals. Dietitians are available through Norton Children’s Gastroenterology.

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