Autoimmune Enteropathy

Autoimmune enteropathy (aw-toh-i-myoon en-tuh-rop-uh-thee) is a rare condition that causes children to have a lot of diarrhea, often to the point of needing intravenous  (IV) fluids. It can also affect a child’s ability to absorb food and vitamins.  

Autoimmune enteropathy occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks itself, and irritates or inflames the lining of the intestine. Sometimes this is a problem only with the bowel or intestines; sometimes the body attacks itself in other places such as the thyroid or other glands in the body. 

There are many different kinds of autoimmune enteropathy.  Several different tests are needed to figure out which kind of autoimmune enteropathy your child may have. 

This is a very rare condition in children in the United States.  

Autoimmune enteropathy may be linked with other disorders like diabetes and kidney disease.

  • Diarrhea / loose watery stools all the time
  • Poor weight gain and weight loss
  • Decreased urine output
  • Frequent infections
  • Occasional blood in the stool
  • Skin rash
  • A doctor will ask about your child’s medical history and examine your child.
  • Special blood tests may be done to help with a diagnosis.
  • Your child may have a special test called an endoscopy. This test is done to look at the stomach and small intestines. 

The treatment of this problem is usually by medicines that suppress the immune system. Children may also need a special diet. Surgery is usually not needed. 

Sometimes these children will need to get IV (intravenous) nutrition. This gives them the nutrition their bodies need to grow and heal the intestines.

Call your doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • Not urinating
  • Diarrhea gets worse
  • Fever (temperature over 100.4° F)

Last Updated 09/2013