Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lactose intolerance

I wanted to include this little tit-bit of information that I came across whilst trying to write the info about foremilk and hindmilk.

I have had a couple of mums telling me that they have been told that their breast fed children may be reacting to the amount of lactose that they are eating in their diet and may be affecting their children.

According to the La Leche League International: "Lactose intolerance is not a problem for babies. They are born with the ability to produce lots of lactase because they depend on their mother's milk for nutrition in the first year of life and the lactose in mother's milk is needed for brain development. Lactase production decreases as children get older, because in the world of mammals, milk is a food for babies, not adults. This is why some adults (especially the elderly), become gassy and uncomfortable when they eat dairy foods high in lactose, which their bodies can no longer digest. True lactose intolerance in infants is called galactosemia, an extremely rare genetic condition (approximately 1 in 30,000 US births) that is present from birth and fatal if not treated; a baby with the disorder would not gain weight well and would have clear symptoms of malabsorption and dehydration." Leeson, R. Lactose intolerance: What does it mean? ALCA News 1995; 6(1) 24-25, 27.

Yes, it is true, a high amount of lactose can affect the child/ overload the digestive system and cause the gassy symptoms with green, watery/foamy stools. However, this usually comes about by the poor breast feeding technique of too much foremilk...see my other post re: foremilk and foremilk.

No change in maternal diet (regarding lactose) is ever going to change the breast milk, the amount of lactose in breast milk is a set thing for that mum. If the child does seem to respond to decreasing the amount of dairy in the maternal diet it is more likely due to the child being sensitive to a protein from the cow's milk that CAN come through to the breastmilk.

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