Have you wondered why your baby suddenly started crying uncontrollably or had a loose motion sometime after having milk? The logical and valid answer to this query may be that your baby is lactose intolerant. Lactose is the sugar contained in the mammary glands of your breasts and dairy products. Your breasts produce lactose irrespective of your diet or food intake. Lactose intolerance in your baby is the inability of your baby to digest lactose present in milk and various dairy products. Lactose intolerance in your baby is caused when the enzyme responsible for the digestion of lactose is produced inadequately in the body. In case of less production of lactase, lactose is not broken down in a simpler form and cannot be completely absorbed thereby your baby may exhibit the below symptoms.
Types of lactose intolerance in babies
Lactose intolerance can be classified into these major categories:
It is also known as developmental intolerance and is more common in adults as compared to that of babies as the body gradually decreases the production of lactase.
Its occurrence may be due to an intestinal infection or inflammatory reaction in the intestine or as a result of gastroenteritis. These infections may cause the gut to reduce the production of lactase.
A very rare form of intolerance. In this form genetic inheritance plays a major role as the genes are inherited by both the parents. In such a kind of intolerance, babies seem to be malnourished and underweight due to the inability to digest mother's milk which is rich in lactose.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies
As understood undigested lactose that remains in the intestine may cause many problems related to the intestine like:
Stomach ache or colic as you may like to call. Your baby may fuss around or may cry uncontrollably keeping his legs folded towards his chest, this is a sign of abdominal cramp.
If your baby is unable to digest milk or any dairy product, he may start losing his vitals through watery motions. The body may lose all the vital nutrients during diarrhea.
Gas and flatulence
After almost an hour’s time of feed, you may feel your baby release gas every now and then. Some poop may also be there with the gas. You may find his stomach very hard during that time.
Your baby may throw out the food or milk he just had.
Your baby may have frequent poops which are watery and frothy in nature.
It may be more prevalent in preterm babies for the fact that their intestine is not developed enough to produce lactase.
Precaution and care for lactose intolerance in babies
Now that we know the real cause of lactose intolerance, it is essential for you to identify the actual ingredient responsible for the problem, these are the following protocols you must follow to avoid such hassle and pain:
Avoid lactose rich food
If you want your baby to grow and nourish, eradicate foods rich in lactose. The list is pretty long but the important ones are yogurt, puddings, pies, bread, cakes, certain poultry foods, cow’s milk, etc. The nutritional facts are mentioned at the back of products that you buy and you may choose the one free from lactose.
You may try food that is devoid of lactose and compensate the nutritional requirements of your baby. These may be calcium-fortified soy milk which is a very healthy source of nutrition and good for bone development in babies. Tofu instead of paneer or cottage cheese is a nice option.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits do contain sugar but it is different from that of lactose, thus fruit juices, vegetables and soups may be given
Cereals, fats and protein based foods
Many bowls of cereal are devoid of lactose especially gram and rice, even butter, and olive oil have a lower content of lactose, therefore, making it ideal for your baby food. Many beans and fish have lesser lactose concentration, making it more suitable and healthy for your baby.
If your child is breastfeeding then he might require lactase drops. These drops help in digestion and absorption of lactose present in the breast milk.
Lactose intolerance in babies: When should your baby see a doctor?
Varying from baby to baby, intolerance may last for a lifetime or may improve as your baby grows old. In any case, an intervention of a medical practitioner is a must. If your baby is lactose intolerant, he may take 2-4 weeks to recover but the course of action and medication needs an expert advice. Also, it is important to understand if your kid needs a lactose-free or lactose-reduced diet. The doctor will carry out a thorough medical checkup and may decide the dose of lactose or may reintroduce lactose rich diet in future. This doesn’t have long-term implications but seeing your baby suffer is a pain.