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Lactose intolerance in childhood is not always a permanent condition

Lactose intolerance in childhood is not always a permanent condition

One of the biggest concerns of every first-time mom and dad is related to lactose intolerance. Through this article I want to reassure them and at the same time to demystify the problem a little.

The primary lactose intolerance occurs mainly during the first three years of life, and is due to the genetic deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which hydrolyzes lactose. Translating: Children with lactose deficiency, the enzyme that allows the digestion of lactose, can suffer from gas (flatulence), colic, diarrhea, nausea and bloating after consuming foods containing this substance. This is because the lactose arrives intact to the colon, being fermented by bacteria, which will produce organic acids. The recommendation is to eliminate intake of dairy products to control the symptoms.

Another change is secondary lactase deficiency due to damage to the intestinal mucosa, usually after diarrhea. The permanence of elimination of soft or semi-liquid stools, accompanied by flatulence and colic is easily noticed by the parents, who should consult a pediatrician for the proper diagnosis.

The primary lactose intolerance is hereditary without treatment, and the solution is elimination of the intake of milk-based foods and products containing a natural sugar called lactose. The secondary disease tends to be self-limiting, but, when necessary, dietary correction and administration of lactobacilli may be used to aid recolonization of the intestinal flora.

Some foods that can be substituted instead of milk are curds or yogurts These foods have no lactose and have the same properties as milk. High-calcium foods are also indicated. However, there is a problem of bioavailability, with much greater quantities of these foods being required: eight cups of spinach equals, on calcium levels, one cup of milk.

The follow-up and consequent treatment, when necessary, by a pediatrician it is very important to restore the health of the child, thus avoiding changes in their growth and development.

Foods containing lactose

  • Dairy: Products made from milk contain lactose, such as yogurt, cream milk, ice cream, mayonnaise, (mixed) milk drinks, cream cheese, general cheeses and cottage cheese. Yogurt can be a good choice for calcium intake, since active intestinal cultures metabolize lactose, facilitating digestion.
  • Breads and pastas: starchy foods (breads, crackers, pancakes, cakes and the like) are often used milk powder or milk products in the preparation.
  • Sweets: ice cream and frozen cakes, frozen milk, milk chocolate, puddings, creams and desserts using condensed milk contain lactose.
  • Drinks: Any form of milk contains lactose, such as whole milk, powdered milk, condensed milk, milkshake, flavored milks and various instant drinks. Some artificial sweeteners, caramel and toffee-flavored sweeteners also have milk components. Some milk drinks are available in versions with reduced lactose and may be tolerated by some individuals.
  • Sauces and toppings: salad dressings, cheese sauces, butter and pate may also contain lactose. Generally, butter has a smaller amount of lactose and may be an alternative, provided it is moderately consumed.
  • Vegetables: Raw vegetable materials do not contain lactose if they are not made with dairy products. But attention: gratin, sliced ​​vegetable dishes, vegetables with cream, cooked vegetable dishes can contain or use lactose in the ingredients.


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