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What is lactose intolerance in children?
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body does not produce enough lactase enzyme. Consequently, lactose cannot be broken down into two smaller molecules such as glucose and galactose. It passes through the undigested small intestine and fermentes in the large intestine. Gases are formed that push the intestinal walls, pain, cramps appear, and diarrhea may also occur.
Disturbing symptoms of lactose intolerance may appear 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating a meal rich in this ingredient. Thanks to careful observation of the child, it is usually possible to quickly determine the component responsible for unpleasant ailments. However, it is relatively difficult to assess whether the reason is lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
You should also be aware that often lactose intolerance only becomes apparent after consuming a large amount of lactose. For many people, low consumption of this ingredient does not cause major symptoms, it can be almost unnoticed.
Some children have very serious symptoms after consuming even a small amount of lactose. Others only react to more of this ingredient.
Where is lactose found?
Although lactose is associated with milk and dairy products, the truth is that it also occurs in other products: frozen foods, some breads, canned goods, and breakfast cereals. Lactose is also often found in medicines.
To assess whether a product is lactose free, you should carefully examine the product label. Lactose is hidden, among others, by the following words:
- Soured milk
- milk powder
- cottage cheese
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
The symptoms after lactose ingestion in people who are intolerant are the stronger the more lactose a person has consumed. In children, these are most often:
- stomach ache, painful cramps, overflow
- loose stools
- watery diarrhea
What is the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergies?
Lactose intolerance and milk allergy can all have the same symptoms. However, the causes of the problems are different. Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem, and allergy is related to the immune system. The first is never life threatening, the second can cause an anaphylactic reaction.
Allergy to milk appears most often in the first year of a child's life. Lactose intolerance can develop at different stages of life - in childhood, adolescence, and also in adulthood. Rarely occurs in infants, most often it develops after the age of 3.
How can you tell if your child is lactose intolerant?
The easiest way is to remove all lactose-containing ingredients from your child's diet for at least two weeks and watch if the alarming symptoms disappear. It is then recommended to slowly introduce a small amount of lactose into the child's diet to assess whether this ingredient is tolerated in small (what?) Amounts.
It is also worth taking notes while writing down exactly what your child eats.
Finally, it is good to add that lactose intolerance can be transient and observed in children during periods of infection. Viral infection reduces the body's ability to digest milk. Eating dairy products is also not recommended during periods of gastritis.