Lactose intolerance problems
Lactose intolerance is characterised by the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. Kids who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme lactase, which is necessary for breaking down lactose. Lactose intolerance can be either temporary or permanent. Kids who are lactose intolerant will need to avoid milk and milk products, but you’ll still need to make sure that they get enough calcium.
What causes lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of lactase, the enzyme that helps the body digest lactose. Not everyone who lacks lactase is lactose intolerant. A lack of lactase can be caused by a parasite infection, iron deficiency, or a bout of gastro. Some kids who are lactose intolerant are born with the condition (congenital).
Is lactose intolerance serious?
Lactose intolerance is not serious, but it can be uncomfortable.
Can I prevent lactose intolerance?
You can’t prevent lactose intolerance, but you can manage its symptoms and avoid foods that contain lactose.
How do I know if my child is lactose intolerant?
Kids who are lactose intolerant must have a lack of lactase and the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Excess gas
- Kids who have only one of the criteria for lactose intolerance, are not truly lactose intolerant.
How do I treat lactose intolerance?
First seek a diagnosis from your child’s doctor. Too many children are weaned early because they are mistakenly believed to be lactose intolerant. Almost all babies will experience a bout of lactose intolerance at some point, but it’s usually not serious enough to restrict milk products. If your child truly is lactose intolerant, you will need to restrict diary products, but ensure that your child gets enough dietary calcium in the food she eats. You may need to give calcium supplements.
Should I call the doctor?
You should always call the doctor if you believe your child is lactose intolerant. Only he can diagnose the condition. Never self-diagnose lactose intolerance.
What you need to know about lactose intolerance
- Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products.
- Most babies will experience a bout of lactose intolerance at some point.
- Kids who are truly lactose intolerant will need to avoid milk and milk products, but they still need calcium.
- Never self-diagnose lactose intolerance as this can lead to mistakenly restricting milk and milk products in your child’s diet.
Find more relevant articles and information about food intolerance and allergies:
Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health and Health Insite.
Last revised: Friday, 12 September 2014
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.