5 questions about lactose intolerance in children

5 questions about lactose intolerance in children

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Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem that occurs when lactose is not digested, a particular type of sugar present in milk and dairy products.

The most common symptoms of this intolerance include gas and flatulence, diarrhea, and pain or cramps in the stomach. Symptoms usually appear within a few hours of having consumed the food with lactose. However, parents, faced with the diagnosis of this intolerance, raise doubts about it.

1. Why is my child lactose intolerant? The digestion of lactose requires an enzyme, lactase. This enzyme breaks lactose, a disaccharide, into two simple sugars, a glucose and a galactose, so that they can be used by cells. People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough lactase, so lactose accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract and is used as a substrate for the growth of bacteria present in it, and specifically in the colon. These bacteria ferment the lactose producing the gases that cause the flatulence typical of lactose intolerance.

2. Will my child be lactose intolerant for life? It doesn't have to. Depending on the reasons behind the insufficient lactase production this intolerance can be temporary or permanent. In general, lactose intolerances that appear in adults are usually inherited and have a genetic cause, that is, there is a failure in the genes related to lactase, so they are usually permanent. However, those that appear in babies and children have more to do with the fact that their digestive system is not fully developed and may have a more temporary nature, often disappearing around 2 years. Obviously, not all cases are like this, but it is the most frequent. On the other hand, lactose intolerance also has a component associated with ethnicity, being more frequent in people of Asian / Oriental origin.

3. Is lactose intolerance an allergy? No, food allergies are the result of an inadequate immune response to an allergen, in this case, a food, even in minute quantities, and its symptoms vary but often include rashes and itching. A person can be lactose intolerant and consume small amounts of dairy without showing symptoms.

4. Is lactose intolerance treated? Lactose intolerance has no cure, but limiting the intake of foods containing lactose usually controls symptoms until they are undetectable. These dietary changes will be more or less drastic depending on the degree of lactose intolerance. A total intolerance requires the total elimination of lactose from the diet, while in other cases the person may be able to tolerate small amounts of this disaccharide.

5. What foods contain lactose? In addition to milk and its derivatives, there may be lactose in greater or lesser amounts in cookies, pastries, sliced ​​bread and breakfast cereals, chocolates, cakes and chocolates, mayonnaise and other prepared sauces, soups and purees, and quite frequently in meat derivatives such as ham, sausages and sausages.

Depending on the individual progression of the child, the doctor may indicate, at a certain age, slowly introduce lactose into your diet, so that it can be verified whether the intolerance has been overcome or not. If not, they would return to the lactose-free diet to proceed again with its introduction after a while.

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