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What is Lactose Intolerance in Infants?

Lactose Intolerance in Infants: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Lactose intolerance in infants refers to the inability to digest a sugar found in milk and milk products called lactose. This is usually caused by insufficient or no production of an enzyme called lactase. Lactase is a natural enzyme required to digest lactose in the intestines. Inadequate production or lack of this enzyme leads to problems in the digestive system and causes lactose intolerance in babies. Here are more detailed explanations of lactose intolerance in babies:

Causes:

The main cause of lactose intolerance in infants is inadequate production of the enzyme lactase. This inadequate production is usually due to genetic factors. In addition, some babies are born with a congenital lactase enzyme deficiency. However, the lactase enzyme can decrease with age or disappear due to certain diseases.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of lactose intolerance in infants occur following the consumption of foods containing lactose. Common symptoms may include:

Abdominal pain and cramps
Bloating
Gas
Diarrhea
Nausea
Loss of appetite

These symptoms usually occur within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming lactose-containing foods. To diagnose lactose intolerance in infants, it is recommended to exclude milk and dairy products from your child’s diet for at least 2 weeks and observe the symptoms.

Diagnostic Methods:

The most common method to diagnose lactose intolerance in infants is the “hydrogen breath test”, also known as the lactose breath test. In this test, a person is given a certain amount of lactose and the hydrogen levels in their breath are measured. People who are normally able to digest lactose have low levels of hydrogen in their breath, while people with lactose intolerance have elevated hydrogen levels.

Treatment Methods:

If you are diagnosed with lactose intolerance in infants, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist. The gastroenterologist can measure lactase and other enzymes by taking small intestinal samples. This procedure can examine the internal structure of the intestines.

Dietary interventions for babies with lactose intolerance offer many options. Initially, families may have difficulties with grocery shopping and dietary adjustments. However, with the support of a pediatrician and dietitian, families with lactose intolerance can easily continue their daily lives.

Lactose intolerance in infants is a digestive problem caused by insufficient production or deficiency of the enzyme lactase. In case of suspected lactose intolerance in infants, a specialist should be consulted and the correct diagnosis and treatment methods should be determined. Lactose intolerance and milk allergy are different conditions and it is important to make the correct diagnosis.

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