1. Recognize Lactose Intolerance
The first years of a child's life usually provide information about possible food intolerances. Of course, these can also be developed later in life, but feeding complementary food in the first year of life shows for the first time whether the child cannot tolerate food from the beginning.
Parents should therefore introduce their child to new foods gradually. Certain intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, typically occur naturally later in life.
However, a child who complains of abdominal pain, flatulence, or diarrhea after eating dairy products is often suffering from lactose intolerance.
The reason for the intolerance is a lack of lactase. This breaks down the lactose from food and makes it easier to digest. The body produces lactase independently in people who tolerate lactose. If the body does not produce the enzyme itself, the lactose reaches the deeper parts of the intestine undigested. There, it then causes fermentation processes that lead to the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance.
2. Get a Diagnosis For Your Kid
The diagnosis of lactose intolerance in children differs from the diagnostic possibilities that exist in adults.
In this regard, it should first be mentioned that a diagnosis of lactose intolerance in children is usually only possible from preschool age. In infants and toddlers, lactose intolerance occurs very rarely. The symptoms typically appear from primary school age.
The diagnostic possibilities in children differ according to age:
- From elementary school age, children can be tested with a breath test, similar to adults.
- In younger children, a blood test is used to test for lactose intolerance.
This has an impact on the length of time it takes for the diagnosis to be made. With the breath test, parents learn the result the same day. With the blood test, the evaluation takes a few days. Although the breath test is much more accurate than the blood test, the age of the child is important for the possibility of diagnosis. In the breath test, the child must be able to follow precise instructions.
Since lactose intolerance is not a disease, it is not curable.
Those who suffer from primary lactose intolerance will suffer from it their whole life. The form of lactose intolerance can be determined by a doctor. Children who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance should first completely avoid foods containing lactose.
For a long time, it was only possible for adults to take lactase tablets so that lactose-containing foods could be consumed without discomfort. In the meantime, lactase tablets are also available for children. The tablets ensure that the lactose is broken down from the food pulp and can therefore be digested more easily.
Tips for Parents
Lactose intolerance is not pleasant, especially for children, and can considerably restrict their everyday life and carefree attitude.
Parents should ensure that their child can cope with everyday life without discomfort. There are a number of things to keep in mind: Depending on the age of the child, it can already be explained to him that the consumption of certain foods, in this case foods containing lactose, leads to complaints.
Parents should explain to the child exactly which foods trigger the complaints. Unfortunately, these are often foods that children love to eat, such as ice cream, breaded meat or pudding.
However, the child should also know which foods he or she can eat without worrying. For example, vegetables, fruit, chips, potatoes, pasta or even rice. This is especially important if the child eats outside the home.
In addition, the child's environment should know about the intolerance. If in doubt, the child should always bring his or her own food from home.