How To Manage Life When Your Child Is Lactose Intolerant
Lactose Intolerance is a condition that affects a lot of people. It implies that the person has problems with digesting lactose which is one of the main components of milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance can affect adults and children but it is a little bit trickier in the case of children due to the dietary changes that must be made.
Lactose intolerance comes in varying degrees of severity. In some cases, a child may experience stomach cramps and diarrhoea after they have consumed lactose. In other cases, the child may become extremely ill with regular vomiting. It may affect their appetite and comfort levels for a number of hours or even days.
Lactase is the enzyme that helps the body to break down lactose. When someone is lactose intolerant they are likely to be producing too little of this enzyme. As a result, it is digested incorrectly and is converted to gas or acid in the intestines. This is where the discomfort and cramps begin.
In many cases, changes to your child’s diet will be enough to control the symptoms. You may have to limit the amount of dairy in that child’s diet or cut it out completely. In some cases, the intolerance can be a temporary thing and it may be indicative of an infection or another health issue.
There are so many products on the market that make it a lot more manageable to live comfortably with a lactose intolerance. There are a variety of products that mimic the flavours and texture of dairy but that are free from lactose. In some cases, the child will be able to manage a certain amount of dairy each day. As a parent, monitoring this can be tedious but it is important for your child’s health and well-being.
You may find that your child can eat yoghurt and cheese without issue but drinking milk causes them a problem, for example. In this case, your doctor may prescribe drops or a supplement that contain enzymes to help the body digest lactose.
The greatest concern for a child that is lactose intolerant is that their diet will not contain enough calcium. Dairy is one of the richest sources of dairy and the lactose-free products may not contain enough. For this reason, it is a good idea to consider the other sources of calcium available to your child. Including more foods like broccoli, almonds and dried fruit will increase their calcium intake.
In rarer cases, a babycan be born with a lactose intolerance. They experience diarrhoea and tummy pain due to being unable to tolerate the lactose in their milk. This can be through breast milk or formula. In these cases, your doctor will prescribe a lactose-free formula or recommend you abstain from eating dairy while you are breastfeeding.
As parents, we want to do everything in our power to make our children comfortable. If you suspect that your child may have a lactose intolerance it is important to raise the concern with your GP.
Symptoms may include regular diarrhoea, cramping, gas and a rash.
When it has been diagnosed (either based on symptoms or via the results of a breath test) a plan of action can be made. The prospect of having to buy speciality products and spending a lot of time studying food labels may be frustrating for you but it is important to try and remain as positive and proactive for your child’s sake.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at http://loveofliving.ie/ .