A child's digestive system may not be fully developed
A complex interplay of different factors such as food habits, genes, sex, state of health, age and the maturity of the gut contribute to the differing functionality between kids’ and adults’ digestive systems.1 For example, humans have the ability to digest the lactose in milk, but lactose-digestion abilities of some children can reduce as they grow older.2 Protein malabsorption may also occur due to some disruption in the digestive process.3 Some children may therefore shy from milk when they experience digestive discomfort such as gassiness, bloated feelings, tummy aches and watery stools.2,4
Supporting children's digestion
Milk or dairy foods are important food sources for children. However if kids avoid these due to digestive discomfort they can lose out on proteins, lactose and other nutrients that are important for their growth and development.4,5 Parents have a key role in supporting good digestion by noting the symptoms that their kids experience. Furthermore, they can consider low lactose products and partially hydrolyzed proteins that are easy on kids’ digestion. Digestive discomfort symptoms may be avoided when lactose is taken in small amounts at a time.2 In the case of protein malabsorption, partially hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest or absorb.3
If your kid is one of those described above, it may be high time to manage his diet well because your kid is not a small adult and he needs nutrients to support his rapid growth.
- Merchant HA, Liu F, Gul MO, Basit AW. Age-mediated changes in the gastrointestinal tract. Available at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1542469/1/Orlu%20Gul_Age-mediated%20changes%20in%20GI%20tract.pdf. Accessed on 28 November 2017.
- Misselwitz B, Pohl D, Frühauf H, Fried M, Vavricka SR, Fox M. Lactose malabsorption and intolerance: pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. United European Gastroenterology Journal. 2013;1(3):151-9.
- Keller J, Layer P. The pathophysiology of malabsorption. Visceral Medicine. 2014;30(3):150-4.
- Jackson KA, Savaiano DA. Lactose maldigestion, calcium intake and osteoporosis in African-, Asian-, and Hispanic-Americans. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20(2):198S-207S.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Protein. Available at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Protein.pdf. Accessed on 18 October 2017.