Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase, hence unable to properly digest the natural sugar (a.k.a lactose) in milk. This condition typically occurs during childhood or adolescence, and if your child has lactose intolerance, his symptoms may include the following:
However, milk allergy or cow’s milk protein allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance. Unlike milk allergy, lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system. Those with lactose intolerance may be experiencing symptoms that cause great discomfort but are rarely life-threatening.
It is hard to figure out if your children have lactose intolerance as they do not have words to describe their stomach discomfort. They will just say they have tummy aches. Try to remove all the milk products from their diet for two weeks and observe if the symptoms improved. After all, begin with small quantities at first and see if the symptoms return. Otherwise, bringing your child for a hydrogen breath test is also another way to identify if your child has lactose intolerance.
In most cases, abdominal pain caused by lactose intolerance is not serious and gets better with little or no treatment. Still, parents should be mindful of how long the symptom lasts and if any other symptoms come with it.
Nowadays, living with lactose intolerance is feasible, but it is important to ensure your child has adequate calcium and vitamin D in daily diet. There are many lactose-free milk products in the market, try to incorporate a variety of plant-based milk such as soymilk, almond milk, oat milk, and also foods that are rich in calcium such as broccoli, tofu, bean, etc. to develop a well-balanced diet with lots of calcium which is vital for bone growth.
This article is written by Ms Wu Suet Kei (Nutritionist) for Green Image Organic Enterprise Sdn. Bhd.