Has your infant been falling sick of late? Do you notice any symptoms especially after you have fed your baby? Does your infant cry a lot, pass loose stools like diarrhea or suffer from gas?
These symptoms in your infant, especially if noted after a feed, could point towards lactose intolerance. Read on to know more about lactose intolerance, its symptoms and treatment.
What Is Lactose Intolerance In Babies Or Infants?
Lactose is a form of sugar that is found in all breast milk, dairy milk and other dairy products. Your infant suffers from lactose intolerance when your infant’s body cannot break down the lactose (1).
Around seven percent of your breast milk is made up of lactose. It is also present in baby milk formula in a similar quantity. Around 40 percent of your infant’s energy needs are met by lactose. It also helps absorb calcium and iron. Lactose also aids in your infant’s healthy development.
Your infant’s small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase. This helps break down the lactose into glucose and galactose that can be easily absorbed by the body. In some cases, your infant cannot produce enough lactase to break down the lactose. The unabsorbed lactose passes through your infant’s gut in undigested form. Bacteria eat up this undigested lactose, leading to gas buildup and other symptoms (2).
[ Read: Yeast Diaper Rash In Babies ]
What Are The Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Infants?
Once you have fed your infant, symptoms of lactose intolerance may appear after 30 minutes to two hours. When your infant’s body isn’t able to produce the lactase, the lactose does not get absorbed. It ends up staying in your infant’s intestines. This is when the bacteria start eating the unabsorbed lactose. This process is known as fermentation. It causes a large amount of gas to be produced in your infant’s stomach.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in your infant’s abdomen.
- Excessive gas buildup.
- Heavy burping.
- Constant crying – this is usually because of the feeling of nausea or the pain in the abdomen.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Feeling of bloating.
- Hardness and swelling in your infant’s stomach.
- Feeling cranky and irritable.
- Not able to gain weight as required per age.
- Start feeding from the breast then stop then start feeding again.
- Difficulty in settling down and sleeping at a stretch.
In the beginning, the symptoms of lactose intolerance in your infant will be mild. If left untreated or if aggravated, they may soon turn severe.
[ Read: Gastroenteritis In Babies ]
Some Severe Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Infants:
Once your infant’s lactose intolerance gets severe there may be additional symptoms like:
1. Green Diarrhea:
Your infant’s stool may be in diarrhea consistency that is green and frothy. This will happen because of the unabsorbed lactose that forces your infant’s intestines to retain water. As soon as you notice this, speak to your infant’s doctor and schedule an appointment.
2. Severe Nappy Rash:
Your baby may suffer from severe nappy rash that is raw and red. This happens when the bacteria in your infant’s gut breaks down the lactose. It converts the lactose into hydrogen and lactic acid. This can make your infant’s bowel movements very acidic. This can cause irritation and redness on your infant’s sensitive skin, especially around the genital area. If you see this happening, start using a good nappy rash cream around your infant’s bottom. Also, schedule an immediate appointment with your infant’s doctor.
[ Read: Soya Milk For Babies ]
In some cases however, it is possible that these symptoms are not a case of lactose intolerance. Your infant’s body may simply be taking time to adjust to the breast milk. These symptoms can occur in the first week after birth. It can last between six weeks to as long as five months after birth. In many cases, it is possible that these symptoms will go away on their own, without causing too much discomfort in your infant.
As your infant is very sensitive and fragile, it is important you note all symptoms. If you feel your infant is getting highly uncomfortable and is not gaining enough weight, seek medical advice. Also, if the symptoms persist and your infant is in pain, or there is excessive vomiting or diarrhea, get urgent medical help.
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