Categorized | Child Health Issues, Health

Lactose Intolerance In Children

Lactose intolerance is the inability to produce lactase enzyme that helps the body absorb lactose. While it is not lethal, it can be very uncomfortable, especially to children. Here is a guide to help you understand lactose intolerance in children.

What Causes It

Lactose intolerance is very widespread in the United States. It has been reported that 30 to 50 million Americans have this condition. A person may have lactose intolerance for these reasons:

  • Ethnic Background – individuals of Asian American, Hispanic American and Native American race are more prone to developing lactose intolerance at an early age
  • Medications – some medicines can impede with the intestine’s ability to generate lower levels of lactase
  • Digestive Tract Illnesses – toddlers with conditions that affect the intestine (e.g.  Crohn’s disease or celiac disease) causes the body to suffer from lactose intolerance
  • Infection – a toddler who has had a severe case of diarrhea can develop momentary lactose intolerance for a week or two

The Signs and Symptoms

Signs of lactose intolerance vary from child to child. Some toddlers will not have any reaction while others will be very uncomfortable within 20 to 30 minutes after consuming dairy products and can last for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Children with lactose intolerance will display the following symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

How To Diagnose It

Some parents believe their children are lactose intolerant when they really are not. Hence, it is strongly recommended to consult with a pediatrician to verify whether or not your toddler has it. The doctor will check your medical history and perform a physical examination on your toddler. If your child has lactose intolerance, the doctor can also give suggestions on ways to manage it.

Treatment and Prevention

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But, there are things you can do to help your toddler deal with it.

Modify Your Toddler’s Diet

If your little one is very sensitive, the best thing you can do is to eliminate dairy from your toddler’s diet. This means, he is not allowed to ingest cow’s milk or soy milk, butter, cheese, curd, yogurt and whey. You can give him lactose-free milk or expressed breast milk, green leafy vegetables, fortified bread, fortified juice, tofu and canned salmon or sardines to ensure he still gets the necessary calcium his body needs.

For mild lactose intolerance, you can give your toddler small amounts of dairy products or have him eat dairy products with other foods (e.g. drinking milk during dinner or mixing cheese to his pasta).

Read Food Labels

When buying food, always make sure to check the label first to ensure that the food does not contain any milk and dairy products. Common foods with these ingredients include bread, cereal, instant soups, lunch meats (cold cuts), margarine and cookie and pancake mixes.

Lactase Supplements

Talk with your pediatrician and ask if your toddler can take lactase supplements. They are available over-the-counter and come in drop and tablet form which your toddler can take with foods that contain lactose.

Lactose intolerance is a chronic condition. But, your child does not have to stop enjoying his food as long as you know how to deal with the condition.

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