Lactose Intolerance: What it is and what causes it Lactose intolerance is a condition wherein the body is unable to metabolize or digest lactose, a component found in milk and dairy products. According to pediatrician, breastfeeding expert and author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Jack Newman, lactose intolerance is often caused by incorrect breastfeeding or the baby being allergic to proteins in the cow’s milk that the mother is drinking.
"The answer to these symptoms is not simply to take the baby off the breast, as too many pediatricians recommend, but to fix the breastfeeding. The symptoms are easily treatable 90 percent of the time." said Newman.
Instead of having your baby nurse on both breasts, have him feed on one breast at a time. A study published in the international journal The Lancet says that letting a baby empty one breast of milk at a time helped reduce the problems in 79 percent of babies. The less a baby nurses, the less calories that he gets from the breast milk. The lower the fat content that the baby takes in, the more easily the stomach is emptied. As a result, milk sugar, also known as lactose, gets into the baby’s intestines much faster. This can thus trigger an adverse reaction in the baby’s system.
Another way is to eliminate lactose products like milk, cheese and yogurt from your diet and see if there are changes. If this is the problem, then your baby should start experiencing less discomfort. Try this for weeks and slowly re-introduce the dairy products back into your diet. If no symptoms re-occur, then your baby might have already outgrown his lactose intolerance.
While pediatricians may advise patients to refrain from breastfeeding in the meantime, Newman stresses the importance of providing sustenance to the baby, the best source of which is his mother’s milk.
How to diagnose lactose intolerance in your baby How can you check if your baby has lactose intolerance? Here are signs to watch out for: • Fussiness or irritability • Gas • Watery or green stool
Click here to learn more about lactose intolerance and how to distinguish it from allergy to milk.