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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency

Reviewed July 2008

What is congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency is a disorder that affects a person's ability to digest certain sugars. People with this condition cannot break down the sugars sucrose and maltose. Sucrose (a sugar found in fruits, and also known as table sugar) and maltose (the sugar found in grains) are called disaccharides because they are made of two simple sugars. Disaccharides are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. Sucrose is broken down into glucose and another simple sugar called fructose, and maltose is broken down into two glucose molecules. People with congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency cannot break down the sugars sucrose and maltose, and other compounds made from these sugar molecules (carbohydrates).

Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency usually becomes apparent after an infant is weaned and starts to consume fruits, juices, and grains. After ingestion of sucrose or maltose, an affected child will typically experience stomach cramps, bloating, excess gas production, and diarrhea. These digestive problems can lead to failure to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive) and malnutrition. Most affected children are better able to tolerate sucrose and maltose as they get older.

How common is congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

The prevalence of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency is estimated to be 1 in 5,000 people of European descent. This condition is much more prevalent in the native populations of Greenland, Alaska, and Canada, where as many as 1 in 20 people may be affected.

What genes are related to congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

Mutations in the SI gene cause congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency. The SI gene provides instructions for producing the enzyme sucrase-isomaltase. This enzyme is found in the small intestine and is responsible for breaking down sucrose and maltose into their simple sugar components. These simple sugars are then absorbed by the small intestine. Mutations that cause this condition alter the structure, disrupt the production, or impair the function of sucrase-isomaltase. These changes prevent the enzyme from breaking down sucrose and maltose, causing the intestinal discomfort seen in individuals with congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

Related Gene(s)

Changes in this gene are associated with congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

  • SI

How do people inherit congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency and may include treatment providers.

  • Genetic Testing Registry: Sucrase-isomaltase deficiency (
  • MedlinePlus Encyclopedia: Abdominal bloating (
  • MedlinePlus Encyclopedia: Inborn errors of metabolism (
  • MedlinePlus Encyclopedia: Malabsorption (

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency in Educational resources and Patient support.

General information about the diagnosis ( and management ( of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing (, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests (

To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

You may find the following resources about congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

  • congenital sucrose intolerance
  • congenital sucrose-isomaltose malabsorption
  • CSID
  • disaccharide intolerance I
  • SI deficiency
  • sucrase-isomaltase deficiency

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines ( and How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

Ask the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (

What glossary definitions help with understanding congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency?

autosomal ; autosomal recessive ; carbohydrate ; cell ; congenital ; deficiency ; digestion ; digestive ; enzyme ; failure to thrive ; fructose ; gene ; glucose ; inherited ; intestine ; malabsorption ; prevalence ; recessive ; simple sugar ; stomach

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


  • Belmont JW, Reid B, Taylor W, Baker SS, Moore WH, Morriss MC, Podrebarac SM, Glass N, Schwartz ID. Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency presenting with failure to thrive, hypercalcemia, and nephrocalcinosis. BMC Pediatr. 2002 Apr 25;2:4. (
  • Jacob R, Zimmer KP, Schmitz J, Naim HY. Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency arising from cleavage and secretion of a mutant form of the enzyme. J Clin Invest. 2000 Jul;106(2):281-7. (
  • Keiser M, Alfalah M, Pröpsting MJ, Castelletti D, Naim HY. Altered folding, turnover, and polarized sorting act in concert to define a novel pathomechanism of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency. J Biol Chem. 2006 May 19;281(20):14393-9. Epub 2006 Mar 16. (
  • Ritz V, Alfalah M, Zimmer KP, Schmitz J, Jacob R, Naim HY. Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency because of an accumulation of the mutant enzyme in the endoplasmic reticulum. Gastroenterology. 2003 Dec;125(6):1678-85. (
  • Sander P, Alfalah M, Keiser M, Korponay-Szabo I, Kovács JB, Leeb T, Naim HY. Novel mutations in the human sucrase-isomaltase gene (SI) that cause congenital carbohydrate malabsorption. Hum Mutat. 2006 Jan;27(1):119. (
  • Sibley E. Carbohydrate intolerance. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2004 Mar;20(2):162-7. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: July 2008
Published: February 8, 2016