The child lactose intolerant is one whose body does not produce the enzyme lactase . This enzyme allows us to correctly process and assimilate the lactose contained in the food we eat. Lactose, also known as “milk sugar”, is present in milk produced by female mammals.
Lactose helps the correct absorption of calcium and promotes mineralization of bones. Foods derived from dairy products contain lactose , among which are milk, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cheeses.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a condition that occurs after ingestion . The organism, by not producing lactase, does not absorb lactose efficiently. Therefore, the sugar reaches the colon and is fermented by bacteria that reside there, causing gas, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation and, in other cases, diarrhea.
Even when this disorder does not cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, the child lactose intolerant can present the above-mentioned discomforts and feel very bad. It is important to mention that the symptoms of lactose intolerance and allergies are similar .
For this reason, it can be difficult to determine what condition the child is suffering from. Although the symptoms may vary depending on the age of the child.
How to know if my child is lactose intolerant?
The recurrent presence of the symptoms mentioned above may indicate that this condition is present, although there are other clinical conditions with symptoms similar to lactose intolerance . Based on this, it is important to talk with your pediatrician so that you can perform the following tests that confirm the diagnosis.
Lactose tolerance test
This test is based on measuring the glucose present in the blood after having ingested lactose . If the glucose levels are not altered or raised, it is clear that the lactose is not being absorbed properly.
To perform this test, it is necessary that the patient has ingested foods with a high lactose content. The doctor measures the increase in hydrogen that we usually eliminate through the lungs , in small quantities and at regular intervals. If the exhaled quantities exceed normal levels, the test will be determined as positive.
We proceed to identify the acidity in the feces when the children are very small and it is difficult to apply the previous tests. The undigested lactose is fermented and produces lactic acid , one of the acids that can be detected in the stool of the child.
How to help your child if he is lactose intolerant?
If your child has been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, you should avoid providing foods that contain it . You can plan your diet taking into account the following recommendations:
- Yogurt is easy to digest, as it contains healthy bacteria that make the enzyme lactase.
- Foods such as tofu, green leafy vegetables, lactose-free or soy milk and calcium-enriched juices are a good choice.
- The pediatrician can indicate an adequate supplement for your child if he / she verifies that he / she is not ingesting enough calcium.
- Foods rich in calcium that do not contain lactose can be a great option for your children, among which are spinach, salmon, oranges and fortified breads.
How to treat lactose intolerance in children?
Since this condition is a life condition, the only effective treatment is prevention . A balanced diet that replaces the deficiencies of calcium and other nutrients that milk provides, such as vitamin D, will be of great benefit to the health of your child.
It is prudent to determine the degree of intolerance to lactose that your child presents and take the forecasts that fit the case. Many foods not derived from milk contain lactose in their composition , such as desserts, sauces, soups and sweets.
Currently, there are medications to replenish lactase in patients with this deficiency . These come in various presentations, such as capsules, powder or syrup. Its intake before meals helps to have a better digestion of dairy products.