What are tummy troubles?

Tummy troubles or impaired gastrointestinal tolerance can be caused by food allergy, infection, surgery or as a consequence of certain medical treatments.1,2 However, despite the variety of causes, impaired gastrointestinal tolerance typically results from either impaired digestion and/or absorption of nutrients.3

Digestion and absorption are important, as before we can benefit from the nutrition present in our food, our bodies (or more specifically our gastrointestinal tract) needs to break down (digest) food to allow us to absorb the nutrients in a useable form for energy, and in the case of toddlers, to help with growth and development as well.

In impaired digestion or maldigestion, food is not completely broken down within your toddler’s tummy or gastrointestinal tract, resulting in the nutrients being less available to your toddler.4

Impaired absorption or malabsorption, is different and happens when food cannot be absorbed effectively from your toddler’s tummy or gastrointestinal tract, which again makes the nutrition in their food less available for use.4

Symptoms which may suggest your child has tummy troubles or impaired gastrointestinal tolerance Include:3,4

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort and / or bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.


  1. Vandenplas Y et al. Arch Dis Child 2007;92:902-908.
  2. Webster-Gandy J et al. (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press; Oxford 2012, pp578-579.
  3. Collins C et al. Managing malabsorption and poor feed tolerance in adults: a practical guide. September 2012. Accessed 12th March 2014.
  4. WGO, 2007: http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/downloads/en/pdf/guidelines/13_malabsorption_ en.pdf Accessed 26th February 2014.

RXANI130244b Date of preparation: February 2014