With milk being one of the first and unarguably the most important food for a baby, it can be quite disconcerting for a parent to find out that their child is lactose intolerant. It may be difficult to manage lactose intolerance but definitely not impossible. Here we bring you, a brief lowdown on all you want to understand about Lactose Intolerance.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Simply put, lactose intolerance can be defined as the experience of numberless gastric and indigestion symptoms followed by consumption of food items that contains lactose, a sugar present in milk and dairy products. Lactase is an enzyme found in human body which helps in breaking and digesting this lactose. When lactase is limited or absent in the body, the intestines are unable to absorb the lactose leading to intestinal malabsorption distress. In rarest of the cases, it can largely hamper the basic quality of life.
What all foods contain lactase?
Besides milk, most dairy products contain lactase. These are:
- Foods made from milk: Cream, cheese, butter, yogurt, mithai
- Foods made from derivatives of milk: Ice creams, cakes, biscuits, chocolates
- Other sources: salad dressings, mayonnaise, baked goods, breakfast cereals, pancake mixes, instant soups
How to identify if your child is lactose intolerant?
The severity of lactose intolerance differs as per the individual’s ability to digest lactose and the quantity of lactose taken. If your child regularly complaints of bloating, abdominal cramping, excessive flatus and diarrhoea, after consumption of milk (experts suggest symptoms to show up between 30 minutes to 2 hours) or lactase-based products, you may want to check with the doctor about it. It occurs due to formation of excessive fluids and gas after the consumption of lactose-containing products. In most cases, the symptoms subside or completely disappear by the age of 3. But in the rarest of the cases, Congenital Lactase Deficiency (CLD) is noticed in which lactase enzyme activity is completely absent or very sluggish since birth.
Managing Lactose Intolerance
A lactose intolerant child cannot be termed as allergic to milk and other dairy products, as the amount of lactase in the chosen food product and the quantity of the same food consumed is also considered to reach a definitive conclusion. For instances, dairy products like cheese and yogurts are most likely to be well tolerated by the infants. Here are some other suggestions:
- It is important to introduce small portions of dairy products to check the prevalence of lactose intolerance in your kid.
- Beware of the hidden sources of lactose like salad dressings, candies, chocolate mix, cream, breads etc. Read labels before buying packaged foods.
- Feed your infant small portions of such food items at one go.
- Restricting lactose-rich products might not be the solution since complete cessation of dairy products can hamper overall development of infants and can lead to severe calcium, magnesium and vitamin D deficiency.
- Combination of foods might help in counteracting the sensitivity effect of lactose rich foods.