For children, dairy products are a primary component of a healthy and balanced diet. Not only do these foods taste good, but they also deliver high doses of calcium necessary for growing bodies. Unfortunately for some children, drinking a glass of milk or eating a bowl of ice cream is not so simple. It could lead to hours of uncomfortable symptoms that may range from mild to severe. For parents, these symptoms may seem sporadic or inconsistent. A visit to a pediatric gastroenterologist can clear up the confusion and provide a clear diagnosis for a child’s digestive health problems.
Did you know…
that lactose intolerance is more likely to occur as children grow older? That is because the body often loses its ability to digest lactase as it ages out of infancy and childhood. In fact, the National Institutes of Health report that an estimated 65 percent of people develop some degree of lactose intolerance by the time they reach adulthood.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance in children?
Your child may be lactose intolerant if he or she regularly develops abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas or diarrhea after consuming dairy products. Keep in mind that some children are only intolerant to high dosages of dairy, whereas others may be sensitive to even small amounts. In addition, some children may be able to tolerate yogurts or hard cheese but unable to consume milk.
Is it possible that my infant was born lactose intolerant?
While very rare, it is possible for infants to be born with a congenital condition that causes lactose intolerance. Known as congenital lactase deficiency, this condition is an inherited condition caused by a genetic mutation. Even in Finland, where the condition is most prevalent, congenital lactase deficiency is only present in 1 in 60,000 newborns.
How will a pediatric GI specialist treat my child’s lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is best managed with lifestyle modifications. If your child is referred to our office for lactose intolerance, we may perform certain diagnostic testing, such as an endoscopy, to check for abnormalities or any complications of lactose intolerance, such as damage from acid reflux. Some children can safely and comfortable eat foods containing lactose with the help of digestive aids and dietary modifications. Many are able to tolerate certain dairy products, allowing them to get adequate amounts of calcium in their diets. Less commonly, a child may be completely lactose intolerant and required to avoid all forms of dairy.