Is your baby refusing breastfeed?
Do you find that your newborn falls sick everytime you try to feed her? Or that your toddler is not very comfortable after you give him milk to drink?
While you may feel that your newborn is yet to develop a taste for milk or that your toddler is only pretending to have a tummy ache to get out of drinking that glass of milk; the fact might be very different. Your child could actually be suffering from a digestive disorder called Lactose Intolerance that causes the discomfort and hence, the repulsion to consume milk.
Lactose intolerance is very common in babies and toddlers. While kids often grow out of it, there is immense discomfort while it lasts. The side effects can range from allergic eruptions, to severe pain, vomiting, or more whenever your child has milk or any product that contains dairy. Identifying the condition is important for parents to find suitable remedies or alternatives for dairy products.
Also Read: How to identify allergies in children
Lactose is a type of sugar that is seen in milk and any dairy product. The body produces an enzyme called lactase that is needed to digest it. If the body is unable to produce this enzyme, the lactose stays in the intestine. Then the bacteria residing in the intestines begin to work on them and can cause severe issues.
Although, the symptoms of lactose intolerance are not particularly dangerous, they can cause a lot of discomfort to the child. Lactose intolerance in younger children may reduce with time, when their body is able to produce the necessary amount of lactase to digest lactose.
Stomach infections in babies, that lead to a spell of diarrhea can temporarily make the baby lactose intolerant by damaging the lining of the small intestine. However, this usually subsides in about three to four weeks eventually.
The signs of lactose intolerance are usually seen about 30 minutes after the child has consumed milk or any dairy product. This is the time that it takes for any food to be digested and then moved to the intestines.
If the lactose is not digested, the bacteria will begin to feed on it causing the following symptoms:
When lactose is left undigested in the intestine, it tends to hold water. This is one of the main reasons why children with lactose intolerance tend to have loose or watery stools when they consume milk. This can be extremely painful because of the gas produced by the bacteria feeding on lactose.
If your baby is lactose intolerant, eczema is a common sign. The condition is known to act as a trigger for eczema and every time the child consumes milk or milk products, the eczema symptoms worsen. However, often if milk is not given, the eczema too remains under control and slowly fades away.
When intestinal bacteria work on the undigested lactose, they ferment it. As the milk is itself rich in protein, when fermented, it leads to a lot of gas buildup in the tummy. This leads to severe burping or flatulence in children.
Also Read: 21 Iron Rich Foods for babies and toddlers
As the gas in the abdomen accumulates, it leads to swelling and can make the abdomen look very enlarged. When you touch your child’s stomach, it is also very hard. This symptom occurs within 30 minutes of consuming milk and the severity depends on the level of intolerance.
When there is any undigested food in the gastrointestinal tract, the natural reaction of the body is to force it out. This is why your child will feel nauseous and uncomfortable when they are lactose intolerant as the lactose remains in the intestine. This, along with the gas produced in the stomach, may force it out, leaving the child feeling weak. Excessive vomiting can also lead to dehydration. Therefore, it is very important for you to take note of this symptom.
When the digestive system does not function as needed, the body is under a lot of stress. Due to this, your child may also experience severe headaches because of several stress hormones that are released by the body. Even as adults we know that, an upset tummy can make your head feel heavy and painful.
As the gas produced by the bacteria travels through the intestines, it leads to spasms and cramps. This can be very painful for the child. This pain is also seen between 40 minutes to 2 hours of consuming milk in children who are lactose intolerant.
If your child is lactose intolerant, it is best to keep him or her away from dairy products. If you are worried about fulfilling your child’s calcium requirements, you have the option of choosing supplements suggested by your doctor. They can also provide tablets that contain the necessary enzymes to break down lactose.
It is possible that your child is able to digest some dairy products like yogurt easily. If not, you can also try lactose free milk which is available in most leading supermarkets.
Alternatively, green leafy vegetables, soya beans, almonds, fish, orange juice, dry fruits, and other calcium rich foods can be included in your child’s diet to ensure that they get the required nutrients. In extreme cases of lactose intolerance, you may consult a dietician to help your child get a balanced meal with all the important nutrients that they require to grow.
Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you