Lactose intolerance is the inability of babies to digest lactose present in milk. Newborn babies might have lactose intolerance because the small intestine is not yet equipped to produce lactase, which helps in digesting lactose. It can be controlled by following an elimination diet until the production of lactase starts.
Lactose is a form of natural sugar that is found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance also called lactase deficiency, means that the baby cannot easily digest the lactose in the milk. When improperly digested lactose moves through the large intestine, it causes various problems like gas, bloating of the abdomen and stomach ache. This condition occurs when the small intestine is incapable of producing an enzyme called lactase in adequate quantities. The enzyme lactase breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose and thus aids in its digestion.
Newborn babies might have lactose intolerance because the small intestine is not yet equipped to produce lactase. However, once the production of lactase starts, the condition goes away.
There may be three reasons for lactase deficiency:
Congenital lactase deficiency occurs when there is a mutation in the gene responsible for the production of lactase. The symptoms begin to occur shortly after the baby’s birth.
This type of lactase deficiency is caused due to diseases like celiac sprue. In a child affected by this disease, the internal lining of the small intestine is destroyed along with the lactase. It thus results into lactose intolerance in the baby.
This is the most common cause of lactase deficiency and is a result of inadequate production of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine.
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance: The common symptoms of lactose intolerance are:
- Passing of gas
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating and nausea may also be seen
These symptoms however, also indicate several other gastrointestinal problems. They cannot be very useful in detecting the condition of lactose intolerance in a baby. It is thus best to have formal tests conducted. The tests will make it possible to positively diagnose lactose intolerance.
If the tests prove that the baby is not lactase deficient, it will help in the diagnosis of other gastrointestinal disease. The symptoms are also different in different babies based on the amount of lactose in the baby’s diet. The more the intake of lactose, the severe the symptoms observed. It also depends upon the level of lactase deficiency. In baby’s that are severely lactase deficient, even a small amount of lactose intake will lead to severe symptoms.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be controlled by limiting the intake of lactose considerably. However, most of the children that are lactose intolerant, can tolerate small quantities of lactose intake. Reducing the intake of milk, cottage cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream is necessary in such cases. For children who are intolerable to even small amounts of lactose, the dietary restrictions for them are to be more severe.
Milk is a major source of calcium for children. Reduced or no intake of milk may also make the baby prone to calcium deficiency. It is thus best to supplement lactose intolerant babies with vitamin D.
The pediatrician may suggest certain extensive measures to supplement the supply of vitamins and proteins to the baby. It is also advisable to consult a dietician. Visit the Credihealth online children’s clinic today to ask doctors for consultation!