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“Mom, my tummy hurts!” – Lactose intolerance in children

Your 3 to 5 year old is having regular tummy troubles and you wonder what is going on. Every time they have their favourite ice cream, they have tummy cramps, smelly bottom burps and diarrhoea or constipation. Their stomach has also been gurgling a lot lately as if it’s trying to tell you something!

You’ve heard about and read up on lactose intolerance – could this be what they have or is it a more serious health condition? Should you cut dairy out of their diet to see if things improve or wait until you’ve had a proper diagnosis? Here’s what you need to know about lactose.

What is lactose?

Lactose is the main sugar present in both human and cow’s milk. It is an important source of energy and a “good“ sugar for your child. In infants, it’s the most important source of energy, providing almost half of the total energy they need to grow.1

In order to release its energy, lactose needs to be broken down in the small intestine by an enzyme called lactase. In general, the amount of lactase produced by the body naturally decreases with age. This begins very gradually after weaning reaching 70–80 % of the adult population.1

A deficiency of the lactase enzyme from birth is extremely rare, and you would have spotted the signs a long time ago even if your child was breastfed, as human milk contains more lactose than cow’s milk (7 vs 5 g of lactose/100 ml).1

Lactose and happy growth

Lactose is an important source of energy and a “good” sugar for your child. Milk and other dairy products have a high nutritional value and calcium is crucial for bone health, so don’t cut out dairy unless you have to. In the unlikely event that your child is lactose intolerant it may feel like a lot to deal with, but it is not a serious issue and manageable with a few simple changes to their diet. It’s also an opportunity to teach your child how much good nutrition matters.1

If you think your child may be lactose intolerant

  • Keep a food diary to spot any food patterns and symptoms – pay attention to whether there is any difference with and without dairy foods
  • Read the ingredients labels on food products to see if they contain large amounts of lactose or dairy
  • Consult your doctor if you think your child is lactose intolerant

Remember, everything starts in the tummy and grows from there... when they feel right, they can enjoy all the ways of Growing Up Happy.

IMPORTANT NOTICE. NESTLÉ® LACTOKID® 4 is not a breastmilk substitute, and is formulated to support the changing nutrition needs of healthy young children older than 3 years.