Lactose is an important carbohydrate in milk.
When a child doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase (that is required to digest lactose), undigested lactose will lead to accumulation of gas and acid in the intestine1.
Facts about lactose sensitivity in children
Most children have normal lactase activity
Lactase amounts may decrease as children get older2. It’s good to know what to look for in case a child develops sensitivity later in life.
Certain ethnicities are more prone to lactose sensitivity.
This includes children of Asian, Hispanic, African American, or Native American descent.
Lactose-sensitive children experience discomfort if they consume milk or dairy product that contains lactose.
Your child may face digestive discomfort such as diarrhea, gassiness, abdominal bloating, pains or cramps between 30 minutes-2 hours after consuming lactose3.
Degree of lactose sensitivity can differ between children.
Some children have only a mild sensitivity, easily managed by adjusting the amount of lactose ingested from milk or dairy products. Consult your doctor for medical advice.
Switching milk formulas may help your child’s digestion issues.
If you suspect lactose sensitivity, ask your doctor about switching milk that is lower in lactose and contains easy to digest proteins.
Lactose sensitivity in early childhood does not mean he/she will have the condition for life.
Many children eventually outgrow lactose sensitivity2 when the body is able to produce sufficient lactase level.
Visiting the clinic
If you think your child might be lactose-sensitive, see a doctor. Many suspected cases of lactose sensitivity turn out to be other simple digestive issues that are easily managed with milk that contains lower lactose level and easy to digest proteins.
2. Changing genes; losing lactase. Gut. 2003 May; 52(5): 617–619.