Lactose intolerance is a condition wherein, the body cannot synthesize sufficient lactase, (enzyme required to digest lactose, the chief sugar in milk and dairy products). Consequently, undigested lactose remains in the intestine and triggers a host of gastrointestinal derangement. These GI disturbances can be extremely uncomfortable, but the condition is not dangerous.
The precise reasons of why certain people are lactose intolerant and others aren’t, is not yet known but, the condition is not uncommon. Genes has a part to play. Hardly ever, a baby is born with lactose intolerance. (Both parents need to pass the gene for lactose intolerance to the baby for him to develop the condition.) The baby would have severe diarrhea since birth, and he would be incapable of tolerating lactose in the mother’s breast milk or in formula made from cow’s milk.
Certain medicines and drugs can also cause the body to produce low levels of lactase, thus setting off short-term lactose intolerance.
Babies born prematurely occasionally cannot synthesize enough lactase for a short while. A baby’s lactose level usually increases during the end of the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
True lactose intolerance becomes apparent during the teenage period.
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Babies
Commonly seen clinical features include: diarrhea, bloating, and cramps in the abdomen about half an hour to 2 hours after breast feeding or consuming dairy products, such as, cow’s milk, cheese or yogurt.
Some babies who are lactose intolerant can consume a little amount of dairy without producing any symptoms. Others will be uneasy every time they have foods containing lactose.
Nevertheless, it is less likely for a baby to show signs of lactose intolerance at a very young age, however do talk to the doctor. The pediatrician may advise eliminating all sources of lactose from the baby’s diet for a few weeks to see whether the symptoms settle.
How To Deal With Lactose Intolerance In Children?
- Avoid dairy products and all foods containing lactose. Apparently harmless foods can contain milk products, these are – cookie and cake mixes, breads, breakfast cereals, instant soups, salad dressings, margarine, and lunch meats. Verify food labels for milk byproducts, whey, dry milk solids, and non fat dry milk powder.
- Some babies having lactose intolerance can digest tiny amounts of lactose, whereas others are highly susceptible to the smallest amount. Via trial and error, you will be able to understand how much of which dairy food your baby can deal with. In case your baby is highly responsive to the tiniest quantity of lactose, steer clear of all sources of lactose. Occasionally, babies find it easier to stomach dairy products if it is eaten along with other foods.
- If you have to do away with dairy products from the baby’s diet, you need to ensure that he has other food sources of calcium and that he gets all he required nourishment. Green leafy vegetables, fortified soy milk, broccoli, oranges, and breads fortified with calcium are good sources of the mineral. Vitamins A and D, phosphorus and riboflavin, are other nutrients to be concerned about. It is recommended that you to consult a nutritionist. You also start supplementation for the baby, so that he gets his vital nutrients.
- Furthermore, lactose free dairy products are now available. They supply all the essential nutrients present in dairy products without containing lactose.