How does lactose intolerance manifest in a child?24.05.2022
Milk is the staple food of the infant and the only source of nutrients and energy needed for normal growth and development. However, in some cases, the child has a specific pathological reaction to breast milk or artificial mixtures. If you know what symptoms of lactose intolerance manifest, you can take appropriate measures in time to eliminate the problem.
What is lactose?
Lactose is a milk sugar, that is, a carbohydrate found in all dairy products, including breast milk. It is broken down in the intestines by the action of the enzyme lactase into glucose and galactose, which, in turn, are sources of energy for the body.
Lactase itself is produced directly in the intestine. That’s it, it may not be enough, then difficulties begin, and lactase deficiency is diagnosed.
By origin, lactase deficiency can be:
Primary lactase deficiency is divided into:
– congenital (the gene responsible for the synthesis of the lactase enzyme has been changed). It occurs quite rarely. It is preserved throughout life.
– transitory (temporary). It occurs in premature infants and full-term babies with an immature enzymatic intestinal system. As the child grows older, the intestines begin to function normally, and digestion is restored.
Secondary lactase deficiency occurs if the intestinal cells that produce the enzyme are damaged by intestinal infections, helminthic infestations, food allergies.
Depending on the degree of insufficiency in the formation of lactase, there is
- partial (hypolactasia) – there is an enzyme, but it is not enough
- complete (alactasia) – there is no enzyme at all.
Causes of lactase deficiency
The causes of the disease can be congenital or acquired. The most common causative factors are:
- Insufficient development of the digestive tract due to the birth of a child prematurely
- Underdeveloped microflora in the intestines of the child.
- The consequences of past diseases affecting the work of the intestine.
- Intestinal diseases associated with damage to the mucosa or impaired functioning of the organ, the consequences of surgery
- milk protein allergy
- helminthic infestations
- genetic factor
How does lactase deficiency manifest?
Caring parents should carefully monitor the well-being of the baby. Atypical manifestations and reactions of the body to a particular product should be of concern. Lactose intolerance is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Bloating and severe gas formation.
- Chair disorder. In infants, after feeding, diarrhea begins with foamy patches.
- Pain in the intestines, manifested by nervousness, capriciousness.
- Rapid weight loss when ignoring the problem for a few weeks.
- Violent regurgitation after every feeding.
The mechanism for the development of these symptoms is as follows: lactose, getting into the small intestine, is not digested there, but goes further to the thick one. Microorganisms living in the colon actively use it, while releasing a large amount of gases. These gases are the cause of a sharp swelling of the abdomen. Some of the remaining undigested lactose in the large intestine attracts water from the tissues, resulting in diarrhea. A child who has received less energy due to undigested lactose, to one degree or another, does not gain, and sometimes loses weight, which does not allow him to fully develop.
How to determine the exact diagnosis
If you find alarming symptoms in the baby, you should definitely consult a doctor. The specialist will conduct a preliminary examination of a small patient, perform an initial diagnosis.
To confirm the diagnosis of lactose intolerance, the following tests are done:
- Analysis of feces for the content of carbohydrates in it
- Determination of stool acidity
- Hydrogen test for dairy intolerance (performed in older children)
It is not difficult to make this diagnosis, I use a simple diet diagnostics. If, after removing dairy products from the diet of a nursing mother or from the diet of the child himself, digestion improves, and when introduced back, it worsens, then the diagnosis is not in doubt.
Diagnosis is necessary in order not to confuse the disease with infectious gastroenteritis or an allergy to milk protein – casein.
If we are talking about secondary lactase deficiency (resulting from other diseases), then an examination is carried out in order to identify and cure the pathology that led to this condition (helminthiasis, food allergies, etc.)
Principles of treatment
If your child has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, do not rush to despair. After all, most likely, we are talking about a temporary state.
A woman should pay special attention to her diet. It is recommended to completely exclude all products containing whole milk from the daily menu, and you can try to leave fermented milk products, as they contain fungi in their composition, for self-digestion. However, you need to carefully monitor the condition of the child, it is possible that sour milk will have to be limited for a while. In addition, all foods containing a large amount of fast carbohydrates are excluded from the diet: chocolate, sweets, etc.
If a nursing mother follows a diet, after a while the baby’s condition returns to normal.
When a simple change in diet does not give the desired result, the doctor prescribes to the baby medications containing the lactase enzyme. This medicine must be added to expressed milk and given before each feeding. The doctor individually selects the dosage and determines the duration of admission. It is important to strictly follow the advice of a specialist so as not to harm the baby.
Not all women are able to breastfeed their babies. If a baby has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you need to select special lactose-free or low-lactose mixtures for children with this pathology.
Complementary foods for children with severe lactase deficiency begin to be introduced earlier than for ordinary children. Porridges are prepared on lactose-free or low-lactose mixtures. Fruit juices and fruit purees are introduced as late as possible. Children should try to give yoghurts, fermented milk mixtures with live biobacteria, cheeses.
For effective treatment of lactose intolerance, it is necessary to establish the cause of the violation as accurately as possible and do everything possible to eliminate it. Therapy is selected individually and can last several months.
When the work of the gastrointestinal tract of the child is completely normal, you can return to normal nutrition.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance in infants can be detected independently. However, the treatment of a pathological reaction should be handled by a qualified physician. The diagnostic process is quick and painless. After establishing the exact cause of the development of the disease, the doctor will select an effective treatment that will allow the baby to fully eat.
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