What is Lactose Intolerance in Babies?

by Mami

Sometimes babies may experience discomfort more often than usual. Parents unusually explore what courses this discomfort. One of the issues maybe lactose intolerance (sensitivity). But what does it mean?

What is lactose?

Lactose is primary carbohydrate found in breast milk, and all mammalian milks. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk – all have lactose. If to speak in scientific terms, lactose is disaccharide (a molecular compound of two sugars) comprised of the monosaccharides (single sugar molecules) glucose and galactose.

What does Lactose serve to the Body?

First of all, Carbohydrates are body’s primary energy source. For growing infants Carbohydrates are not only the energy source, growing baby’s brain relies on Carbohydrates. It’s a primary source fuel for proper growth and development.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance appears when the body no longer produces sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which are necessary to digest lactose. The following symptoms may occur when lactose intolerant: abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, and/or bloating after the ingestion of lactose or lactose-containing food substances. Symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on the food that was consumed, degree of lactase deficiency, and how much lactose consumed.

There are four main types of lactose intolerance:
Primary lactase deficiency is the most common cause of lactose intolerance. In this situation, there is a relative or absolute absence of lactase, which develops in childhood and persists into adulthood.
Secondary lactase deficiency is more common in infancy but can occur at any age. It is the result of a small bowel injury (such as acute gastroenteritis or chemotherapy).
Congenital lactase deficiency is the most rare type of lactose intolerance. Infants with congenital lactase deficiency require specialized lactose free breast milk substitutes.
Developmental lactase deficiency is lactase deficiency that is found in preterm infants younger than 34 weeks gestation.

Lactose intolerance in babies is usually not a problem. Babies are born with the ability to produce lots of lactase. However, a high volume of lactose can be overwhelming to a young infant’s immature digestive system. When there is not enough lactase to break down all the lactose, the undigested lactose may cause gassiness and discomfort, and even green, watery or foamy stools.

This doesn’t happen in all babies but can be attributed to oversupply or foremilk/hindmilk imbalance in a breastfeeding mother. Since lactase is produced in the small intestine, a baby might temporarily lose the ability to produce lactase after an acute gastroenteritis. Lactase production generally decreases as children get older, because in the world of mammals – milk was made for babies – not adults.

If you are concerned about your baby might be sensitive to Lactose, you should always consult your healthcare provider.