For children, dairy products are a primary component of a healthy and balanced diet. Not only do these foods taste good, but they also deliver high doses of calcium necessary for growing bodies. Unfortunately for some children, drinking a glass of milk or eating a bowl of ice cream is not so simple. It could lead to hours of uncomfortable symptoms that may range from mild to severe. For parents, these symptoms may seem sporadic or inconsistent. A visit to WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology can clear up the confusion and provide a clear diagnosis for a child’s digestive health problems.
Did you know…
that lactose intolerance is more likely to occur as children grow older? That is because the body often loses its ability to digest lactase as it ages out of infancy and childhood. In fact, the National Institutes of Health report that an estimated 65 percent of people develop some degree of lactose intolerance by the time they reach adulthood.
Your child may be lactose intolerant if he or she regularly develops abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas or diarrhea after consuming dairy products. Keep in mind that some children are only intolerant to high dosages of dairy, whereas others may be sensitive to even small amounts. In addition, some children may be able to tolerate yogurts or hard cheese but unable to consume milk.
While very rare, it is possible for infants to be born with a congenital condition that causes lactose intolerance. Known as congenital lactase deficiency, this condition is an inherited condition caused by a genetic mutation. Even in Finland, where the condition is most prevalent, congenital lactase deficiency is only present in 1 in 60,000 newborns.
Lactose intolerance is best managed with lifestyle modifications. If your child is referred to our office for lactose intolerance, we may perform certain diagnostic testing, such as an endoscopy, to check for mucosal abnormalities or inflammation that can lead to lactose intolerance. Some children can safely and comfortably eat foods containing lactose with the help of digestive aids and dietary modifications. Many are able to tolerate certain dairy products, allowing them to get adequate amounts of calcium in their diets.