Is My Child Lactose Intolerant? | by Jeanne Oh, MD

Pouring milk

Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012

Jeanne Oh, MD Advanced Pediatric Associates Aurora, Centennial & Parker

Jeanie Oh, MD  Advanced Pediatric Associates Aurora, Centennial & Parker

Jeanne Oh, MD

Lactose intolerance (not a milk allergy), occurs when a person cannot digest lactose (primary sugar in milk) due to a deficiency of lactase (intestinal enzyme). Common symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea within a few hours after eating foods with lactose.

One way to confirm lactose intolerance is to eliminate all lactose from your child’s diet for two weeks. If you see symptoms resolve and then return as you gradually reintroduce lactose-containing foods, then it’s a good indication they are sensitive. If you’re still not sure, a hydrogen breath test can provide further insight. Hydrogen in the body is elevated when lactose is not digested.

Because individuals have varying degrees of lactase deficiency, they may tolerate different amounts of lactose in their diet. Many children with lactose intolerance may be able to eat yogurt, aged cheeses and 8 to 12 oz. of milk. Drinking low fat or lactose-free milk and/or taking over the counter lactase (prior to each meal) may also help. If you do create a lactose free diet for your child, include other sources of calcium and/or supplements to meet daily requirements.

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