Lactose Intolerance In Babies

Lactose Intolerance In Babies

26 Oct 2017 | 4 min Read

Foram K Modi

Author | 7 Articles

Medically reviewed by

Dr Madan Mahalle

When we discovered that my son was temporarily lactose intolerant, the anxious and detective mother in me got into a full-blown R&D mode. I Googled, spoke to experts and experienced people then and have gathered a lot of stuff on lactose intolerance in babies

 What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance happens when the body can’t break down lactose sugar.

Lactose is present in breast milk, dairy milk and other dairy products, and it is essential for a baby’s health and development.

Usually, the enzyme lactase changes lactose into sugars that are more easily absorbed. But sometimes, children don’t produce enough lactase to break down all the lactose, so the unabsorbed lactose passes through the gut without being digested. Bacteria eat the undigested lactose, which leads to a buildup of gas and causes symptoms like wind and diarrhoea.

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Types Of Lactose Intolerance

There are two types of lactose intolerance in babies: primary and secondary.

Primary Lactose Intolerance

This happens when babies are born with no lactase enzymes, which is genetic and extremely rare. Babies with lactose intolerance have severe diarrhoea from the very first day of life. To thrive, they need a special diet from when they are born.

Secondary Lactose Intolerance

This can happen if a child’s digestive system has been upset by tummy bug illnesses like gastroenteritis. This kind of lactose intolerance is temporary and usually improves after a few weeks. Secondary lactose intolerance might also happen if your child’s body doesn’t produce enough lactase. This usually develops after the age of three and can be lifelong.

Most lactose-intolerant children can continue to include some milk products in their diets, especially if they eat them with other foods and in small amounts throughout the day.

Understand More About Lactose Intolerance in kids From Our Expert Doctor:

What Are The Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Babies

Lactose intolerance in babies causes a range of symptoms including:

  • Wind
  • Pain and swelling in the tummy
  • Crankiness
  • Failure to settle
  • Coming on and off the breast during breastfeeding
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Diarrhoea

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Red, raw nappy rash caused by acidic poop is another possible symptom or side effect of lactose intolerance. Even if your child has these symptoms, it doesn’t always mean s/he’s lactose intolerant, and it is also highly likely the symptoms will disappear.

Diagnosing Lactose Intolerance

Because some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance and food allergy are similar, diagnosing lactose intolerance in babies can sometimes be tricky.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance In Babies

Lactose intolerance is caused when the intestinal lining (bowel and gut) is damaged. Diarrhoea contaminated with viruses, such as the rotavirus, is a common source of this harm. Lactose intolerance causes babies to be unable to digest lactose adequately, causing it to stay indigestible in the gut.

Lactose Intolerance Treatment 

Your doctor may conduct a few tests to determine if your baby is lactose intolerant. Weaning isn’t usually recommended because breastmilk has so many nutritional benefits. Your child can generally tolerate a small amount of lactose, and gradually increasing it can help her body produce more lactase.

If your baby is formula-fed, consult your GP or a registered dietician before using a low-lactose or lactose-free infant formula. If your child is under six months, avoid using soy-based infant formula.

Lactose Intolerance and Diet

If your child is older and diagnosed with lactose intolerance, they can eat the following foods:

  • Certain pure cheeses with minimal lactose content,
  •  yoghurt, 
  • calcium-fortified soy products, 
  • lactose-free milk, 
  • butter and cream.

Do not allow him to eat: Milk desserts, cream cheese, processed cheese and cheese spreads, muesli bars, instant mashed potato and vegetables with added milk or white sauces. 

These diet tips can also help your child avoid symptoms:

  • Try full-fat milk – the fat gives your child’s body a long time to digest the lactose.
  • When cooking, try roasts, grilled vegetables and Asian-style stir-fries.
  • Try fruit sorbets, meringues, fruit baskets, and milk-free muffins for desserts.

So mums, watch out for signs and take your doctor’s advice. And most importantly, trust the human body.

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Story Of A Baby Battled Against Lactose Intolerance: Here we bring you an inspiring story of a baby who battled lactose intolerance soon after birth. Must check out the story here! 

Reasons To Visit Lactation Specialist: Here is your ultimate guide where we’ve got you covered with about 9 reasons why you should visit a lactation specialist as a breastfeeding mother. 

Breastfeeding Basics: Click here to find out about the breastfeeding basics that every new mom should know.



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