If you are preparing to take your child to a day care centre in the Perth area, it is important to know about any medical condition they may have. One common condition that isn’t always diagnosed when it should be is lactose intolerance.
If your baby has chronic watery diarrhoea and cries a lot, he or she may be lactose intolerant. While the condition is usually most common in premature babies, it does show up in full-term babies, too. For those who are lactose intolerant, it is important to get diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Lactose Intolerance: What is It
The carbohydrate in milk, buttermilk and all dairy products is a sugar called lactose. In breastmilk or most infant formulas, lactose is about 7% of the nutritional content. For babies, lactose provides approximately 40% of their energy needs, helps ensure healthy physical development and helps them absorb iron and calcium.
In a healthy child, the small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase. The enzyme converts lactose into two easily-absorbed sugars: galactose and glucose. However, some babies are unable to produce enough lactase that is essential in breaking down all of the lactose they consume. When that happens, the lactose that isn’t converted gets passed through the system without being digested.
The sugar interacts with bacteria in the large intestine and ferments, producing gas and causing diarrhoea and wind.
There are 2 different varieties of lactose intolerance: 1) primary and 2) secondary.
Primary Lactose Intolerance
In primary lactose intolerance, babies are totally unable to create lactase. It is crucial that they are diagnosed and treated ASAP.
Secondary Lactose Intolerance
In secondary lactose intolerance, babies start out creating enough lactase but production is stopped due to illness. Secondary lactose intolerance is usually caused by microbial diseases that cause coeliac disease or gastroenteritis. Secondary lactose intolerance usually doesn’t present until at least the age of three.
Watch for These Symptoms
Besides the symptoms already mentioned, you can also watch for swelling and pain in the tummy, wind, failure to settle, crankiness, on and off the breast or bottle at feeding time and failing to gain weight.
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