What's in This Guide?
A common digestive disorder which decreases the ability to digest lactose is called Lactose Intolerance. Read this to learn all about Lactose Intolerance.
How Common is Lactose Intolerance in Babies?
You’ve always heard “lactose intolerance,” right? But do you know what it means? Well, lactose intolerance is a condition when the body system can’t produce lactase. This brings us to another question, and that is “What Is Lactase”? Lactase is an enzyme in charge of breakdown Lactose – which is the sugar in milk and other dairy products. When a person can’t digest lactose, the sugar will stay in the digestive system and cause intestinal issues that’ll be uncomfortable but not hazardous.
Therefore, when your baby’s body system can’t produce lactase, which is responsible for lactose production, you can say your baby is lactose Intolerant.
When a pregnant woman reaches her third trimester, the level of lactase in her unborn baby will increase, and preemies won’t produce lactase for some period. However, the typical lactose intolerance won’t appear until a child is in grade school or has become a teenager. Although you might see some signs of lactose intolerance, it does not indicate that your child has the condition. These are the signs or symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
If you wish to know if your child is genuinely lactose intolerant or not, you’ll need to observe him or her for some symptoms. The symptoms of lactose intolerance will appear around 30 minutes to 2 hours of consuming any dairy products, and the symptoms include;
Gas Diarrhea Bloating
You should also note that you mustn’t give your child cow’s milk until he or she is at least a year old. Hence, you need to stay away from dairy products made from cow’s milk until your baby is around one year old as it’ll help reduce the risk of your baby being Lactose Intolerant.
Being Lactose Intolerant isn’t really dangerous to your baby’s health, but it can be uncomfortable. Why? When the symptoms appear in your baby, he or she will tend to fuss, cry and you’ll be stressed out. In fact, it might lead to other issues like a fever when your baby cries for a long time nonstop.
Cause of Lactose Intolerance
The causes of lactose intolerance are not yet known to scientists. They still don’t know the reason why some people can produce lactase and why some can’t produce lactase. However, it’s obvious that genetics has a hand in the lactose intolerance condition, as about 50 million people in America have the condition. Also, about 75% of Jewish Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans suffer from Lactose intolerance, plus 90% of Asian Americans. However, it’s just 15% of descendants of the Northern European that suffer from the condition.
Hence, the fact remains that a few babies are born with lactose intolerance as it requires both mothers and fathers to have the gene before they can pass it on to their offspring. Babies with the normal lactose intolerance condition will find it hard to drink breast milk right from birth and have chronic diarrhea; these kinds of babies will need to take lactose-free Formulas.
With that said, as both parents need to have the lactose intolerance gene, a baby can’t be lactose intolerant. That is, not all babies are born with the condition, but there are some factors that can cause temporary Lactose intolerance.
Consequently, there are some medications that can instill temporary lactose intolerance by decreasing the production of the body’s lactase. These medications have the ability to decrease lactase production, which will directly lead to lactose intolerance. However, this case’s condition will be temporary, as it might disappear when you stop the medication.
Some people with long-term digestive problems are at the risk of being lactose intolerant; Digestive problems like Celiac Disease and Crohn’s diseases. Thus, if a baby has severe diarrhea, there’s a tendency for his or her lactase production to decrease temporarily, and it can lead to temporary lactose intolerance.
Some digestive system diseases will indirectly cause lactose intolerance, so before you diagnose your baby, check these diseases, and severe diarrhea can also decrease the rate at which lactase is produced.
Is Lactose Intolerance the Same as Milk Allergy?
Lactose intolerance is mostly attributed to a state of the digestive system, while a milk allergy is an immunity response. There are different symptoms of Lactose Intolerance, although they’re similar to those of milk allergy. For instance, after consuming dairy products, abdominal pain and diarrhea can cause milk allergy or lactose intolerance. However, there are some symptoms or signs of a milk allergy that are somehow different from that of Lactose Intolerance, and they include
- Running nose
- Watery nose
- Mouth/lips/face swelling.
While those symptoms are present, you can easily determine if the milk is causing them. After all, those symptoms are there after the baby consumes the milk. From a medical standpoint, those symptoms usually present themselves after consuming the milk.
Now, you can see that it’s not all Lactose Intolerance symptoms similar to milk allergy. Therefore, you need to be observant. You should note that chronic swelling of the body parts will need emergency attention.
How will You Tell if Baby is Lactose Intolerant?
Babies aren’t the same; they’re very different from one another, so if your baby is lactose intolerant, it doesn’t mean other babies will have the same condition. Although before you know if your baby is lactose Intolerant it not, you should take it to your health consultant. Observe the symptoms and complain to your pediatrician; he or she will diagnose your baby and tell you the result. However, your pediatrician might advise you to stop feeding your baby dairy products for some time to check if the symptoms and signs will disappear or not.
What to Do if Baby is Lactose Intolerant?
As said above, babies differ from one another, so it’s not all of them that are lactose intolerant. Also, there’s no way to prevent your baby from having the condition, so if you know the body system, if your baby is sensitive to many things, don’t feed your baby dairy products. Don’t feed your baby milk or any of its products, and always check food’s ingredients before purchasing and consuming.
The lactose level in people is different, so it’s up to a person to control their own. Sometimes, you’ll see some lactose intolerant babies eating dairy products with other foods without getting lactose intolerance symptoms or feeling uncomfortable. For instance, Live-Culture Yoghurt is easy to digest than other dairy products because of the healthy bacteria in the yogurt, which stimulates lactase production.
Therefore, you need to monitor what you feed your baby; be careful of dairy products and don’t feed them to your baby if they have a sensitive body system.
The Lactose Intolerance in babies is an aspect of child development vital for parents to know. Lactose Intolerance is a condition of the digestive system, and sometimes you’ll see babies having it. However, some babies don’t have the condition, as parents’ genes are also a significant way of babies being Lactose Intolerant. There are different lactose intolerance symptoms, and these symptoms will appear when your baby consumes milk or other dairy products.