Lactose intolerance in children

Lactose intolerance in children

Lactose intolerance consists of the fact that the body cannot produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the main component of cow's milk and other foods. As a result, undigested lactose remains in the gut and gastrointestinal problems occur. These problems may be uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous.
Lactose intolerance usually occurs in schoolchildren or young people. Although the symptoms may appear earlier, your child is unlikely to be lactose intolerant.

What are the causes of lactose intolerance?

It is not known exactly why some people are lactose intolerant and others are not, but it is not a rare disease. In the United States, approximately 30-50 million people are lactose intolerant.

Genetics can play a role:
about 90% of Asian Americans, 75% of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Jews and Native American adults are lactose intolerant. About 15% of northern Europeans suffer from this condition.
If your child has had a severe episode of diarrhea, his body may have temporary problems with lactase production and may have intolerance symptoms for a week or two. (During this time you can give your baby milk without lactose).
Certain medications can cause the body to produce less lactose, causing the temporary occurrence of lactose intolerance. People with chronic bowel disease (eg celiac disease or Crohn's disease) may sometimes have lactose intolerance.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

If your child is lactose intolerant, he or she may have diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating or gas within 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking dairy products or after breastfeeding.
Some people with lactose intolerance may consume a small amount of dairy products without symptoms, and others may have symptoms even when foods contain a small amount of lactose.

Is lactose intolerance the same as milk allergy?

Not. Allergy is an immune response while lactose intolerance is an intestinal problem. However, the symptoms can be similar. For example, diarrhea or abdominal pain after milk consumption may also be caused by milk allergy and lactose intolerance.
If your baby has a dry rash accompanied by itching and swelling of the face, lips or mouth when consuming dairy products or has hives, the eyes or nose may be allergic to one of the milk proteins.

How can I know for sure if my baby has lactose intolerance?

Again, it is very unlikely that a very young child will be intolerant to, but for sure, talk to the pediatrician. It will ask you about the child's symptoms to determine if there is a possibility. He may suggest removing dairy from his menu for a few weeks to see if the symptoms go away.

Can lactose intolerance be treated or prevented?

No, you can only do certain things to help your child if he is lactose intolerant.

  • Read the labels. You will need to avoid cow's milk and other dairy products. Some seemingly harmless foods contain dairy products: pancakes, cakes, breakfast cereals, instant soups, margarine, salad dressings, bread and certain types of meat. Check food labels for ingredients such as whey, sweet cheese, milk related products and milk powder.
    Thanks to current legislation, dairy products (or other common allergens) must be properly labeled. This will make your job easier.
  • Watch how your child reacts. Some of those who are lactose intolerant may consume small amounts of lactose, while others are very sensitive to very small amounts. You will probably learn through trials and mistakes how much milk your baby can digest.
    Some cheeses contain less lactose than others and are easier to digest. Yogurt containing live cultures (kefir) is generally easier to digest than other dairy products because they are enriched with healthy bacteria that increase lactase production.
    It is possible that when consumed with other foods, dairy may be more easily tolerated by your child. By consuming milk at dinner, the digestive process will be slowed down and the symptoms may be reduced.
    If your child is very sensitive, you should avoid all sources of lactose, but if not, you will be able to give small amounts of certain dairy products.
  • Make sure all the nutritional needs of your child are met. If you will need to remove all sources of milk from your diet, you will need to make sure it has other sources of calcium, which helps in the development of bones and teeth (children need 500 mg of calcium a day). The non-lactated sources of calcium are green vegetables, fortified juices and soy milk, tofu, broccoli, canned salmon, oranges and fortified bread.
    You have to be careful about other nutrients like vitamins A and D, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and phosphorus. It is also very useful to consult a nutritionist.
    Milk and other non-lactose dairy products can be found in many supermarkets. These products have all the ingredients of normal milk, except lactose.
    You may need to talk to your doctor about administering a lactase supplement. These are found in the form of drops that are added to foods containing lactose.
    If you find it difficult to provide your child with all the nutrients he needs without dairy products, talk to the doctor who can recommend certain supplements.
    Ana Maties
  • Tags Lactose intolerance children