Lactose intolerance in kids, especially those past the age of 2 and in the midst of potty training, can be tough to diagnose and treat. Knowing the signs of allergies and intolerance in your kids can be a huge help and save you tons of headaches and frustration. If your child exhibits some of these seven symptoms of lactose intolerance, consider a dairy elimination diet.
The Science of Lactose Intolerance
Why age 2? While some babies are born intolerant, others develop issues with lactose between ages 2 and 5. Most babies are born with lactase enzymes in their stomachs. But, by age 2, when most babies are no longer feeding from their mothers, some have expended the lactase reservoir. Lactose intolerance is completely normal in a human child. In fact, most adults have some degree of intolerance by age 20.
Pasteurization doesn’t help matters. Once milk is pasteurized, nutrients and lactase from the mama cow are destroyed. Raw milk contains lactase and can be easier to digest for those with intolerance issues. So, know that drinking store-bought milk is very likely to cause some degree of intolerance in most people. Those with the following seven symptoms of intolerance should consider lactase enzyme supplementation or dairy elimination diets for two weeks to determine whether dairy is an issue.
Signs and Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Children
1. Diarrhea or acidic poop: This is the sign that parents find the most frustrating. With my own lactose-intolerant daughter, potty training became a nightmare due to regular, uncontrollable and runny bowel movements. The bacteria in your child’s colon is combining with the waste and making it acidic because the lactose can’t be digested in the small intestine.
2. Stomach pain, cramping and nausea: When the small intestine isn’t able to digest food, cramps and stomach pain can occur. Nausea, and even vomiting, can occur in extreme cases.
3. Gas and grumbling: Flatulence and a noisy, grumbling belly can occur while your child’s body attempts to digest dairy.
4. Skin rash: A red rash within a few days of eating dairy can occur in some lactose intolerant children. For my own daughter, her bum and arms tended to break out in small red bumps after dairy consumption.
5. Frequent colds and runny nose: The gut is a big factor in the body’s immune system. The inability to digest milk means the gut flora are out of whack. Excess mucous will get discharged after it builds up within the child’s body from attempts at dairy digestion.
6. Sluggish behavior: Constant bellyaches, impaired immune systems and improper digestion can wear a kid out. Nutrients aren’t being absorbed and creating energy so your little one won’t function at her usual high energy super speed.
7. Halitosis: Bad breath can occur when lactose is metabolized in the body. Methane and hydrogen are the result and the methane smell can be detected in the breath.
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