It is still possible for some children to produce small amounts of lactase, even with lactose intolerance. This is why symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the child.
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The most common cause that leads to the symptoms of lactose intolerance is that the small intestine no longer produces lactase to break down the lactose coming into the body. It's usually not something that can be prevented or expected, especially at an early age. Most children who develop it are unfortunately born with it and will need to go through treatment to make it manageable.