Lactose intolerance is a disorder that until a few decades ago was not well known or taken into account, also because those intolerant people had difficult treatment with lactose-free foods. But nowadays there are many foods with brands for people whose bodies do not tolerate this sugar typical of milk and its derivatives well .
What we least knew and could think is that this small disorder can also occur in babies and children, even so we do not have to worry, since it is nothing serious and with a little awareness on the subject, the little ones who suffer intolerance they can lead a normal life and a totally balanced diet.
WHAT IS IT AND WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
The lactose intolerance occurs when our small intestine, responsible for separating sugars which comprises lactose, having inability to create enzyme lactase and therefore, to separate sugars . This causes the lactose to pass completely with all its sugars into the large intestine, and that is where the reactions known as symptoms of intolerance occur.
As a general rule, all babies are born with complete tolerance to lactose, since in the first months of life they have to feed on breast milk , or failing that, artificial milk that simulates it. But over the years, usually between the ages of 3 and 5, the lactase in your body may begin to weaken or disappear, exposing that intolerance.
This does not happen in all children equally , it depends on the development of their organism and their body, since there are children who will tolerate lactose for the rest of their lives, while others will begin to become more sensitive to this sugar or even not be able to go back to consuming anything that contains lactose or derived dairy products.
A child can become lactose intolerant due to any other type of infection or small gastrointestinal illness , which together with the use of antibiotics causes the body’s lactase to decrease for a time. In this case, it is a temporary intolerance, which can disappear within weeks of it having occurred.
SYMPTOMS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE IN CHILDREN
The symptoms to begin to think that our child may be lactose intolerant can begin to be seen from half an hour or two hours after the consumption of milk or any of the foods derived from lactose. To do this, it must also be taken into account that the symptoms will be clearer the greater the amount of lactose in the product, that is, it is not the same to consume a glass of whole milk than a yogurt or fermented cheese. The symptoms that can be observed if our child is intolerant is that he will begin to have diarrhea , gas, flatulence, nausea or abdominal distention . We do not have to be alarmed by the slightest symptom similar to those mentioned above, since it may simply be a transient gastrointestinal disorder .
To really know if our child is suffering from lactose intolerance, the first test that will be done is to eliminate milk from their diet and those dairy products that they are used to consuming . This prevention will be done for two weeks and once it has passed, food will be included in the daily consumption. If the children return to suffer the symptoms mentioned above, we could confirm the intolerance, so we should go to a pediatrician to do a follow-up. The best known and most common clinical test to confirm the disorder is the lactose breath test, also known as the hydrogen breath test.. With this test, the level of hydrogen and methane is seen in the breath without lactose consumption and then after consumption, and if it is higher than the average, it will confirm the intolerance.
WHAT TO DO IF OUR SON IS INTOLERANT?
If it is definitively confirmed that our child is lactose intolerant, the first thing to do is not to be alarmed, since it is not a serious disease or that it has a severe or harmful treatment.
The first thing to do is eliminate those foods that cause serious symptoms in our little one, something that we can only know by trying . It is necessary to know that this disorder does not cause serious problems in the long run, that is, the consumption of lactose in intolerant people is not the same as, for example, the consumption of gluten in celiacs, which can create lymphomas. Lactose in intolerant people can only have the problem of producing gastrointestinal discomfort, so it is best to test which foods cause more problems and at what levels.
As a clear measure, what we definitely have to take into account is that children do not have to completely eliminate all food that contains lactose, since in the first years of life, many of these foods contain other essential nutrients for their development. . If over time, we realize that our child does not tolerate any type of food with lactose, in supermarkets more and more brands are expanding their market for lactose-free products.