A child with lactose intolerance experiences stomach upsets because they can't digest the natural sugar found in milk. If your child seems to have symptoms of lactose intolerance, the pediatric gastroenterologists at Kids and Tummies have the skills and knowledge to help. At their office in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the experienced team can diagnose your child's condition and provide expert advice on managing lactose intolerance. Call Kids and Tummies to find out more or book an appointment online today.
Lactose intolerance is a disorder in which your child cannot properly digest milk and other foods that contain lactose.
Lactose is a natural sugar that’s in milk and foods made from milk, like yogurt and cheese. It's also added to many other foods, such as bread and cereals. A lactase enzyme in your small intestine breaks down lactose into simple sugars called glucose and galactose, which your gut can easily absorb.
If your child has lactose intolerance, it means they either have no lactase enzyme at all, or they don't have enough to digest lactose properly. This results in unabsorbed lactose in the gut causing unpleasant digestive symptoms.
Symptoms your child might experience if they're lactose intolerant include:
The severity of your child's symptoms varies according to the quantity of lactose they consume. Symptoms could appear within a few minutes or after several hours.
Lactose intolerance is not an allergy and has no connection to immune system function. Therefore your child isn't at risk of serious complications like anaphylaxis, as they might be with a milk allergy.
If you visit Kids and Tummies, your provider can check for lactose intolerance in your child using a hydrogen breath test. Before the test, your child has a drink containing a measured amount of lactose. They then breathe into a container that measures the quantity of hydrogen in their breath. People who are lactose intolerant have increased hydrogen levels.
If you have an infant who can't do the hydrogen breath test, your pediatrician checks their stools for the presence of glucose or measures the stool’s acidity instead. Children who are severely affected by lactose intolerance might have a procedure to measure lactase levels in their intestine.
If your child has only mild symptoms of lactose intolerance, they might be able to consume small quantities of lactose without any problems. You can also give your child a lactase enzyme supplement to reduce symptoms when they drink milk or eat a lactose-containing food.
Children who are very lactose intolerant need to severely restrict lactose, which can be quite challenging, as lactose is such a common ingredient. Milk is also a great source of essential nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D, which are vital for your child’s development. Your Kids and Tummies doctor may have you see a registered dietitian for detailed help with your child's diet.
If you suspect your child has a lactose intolerance, call Kids and Tummies today for advice or book an appointment online.