Let's Talk About Lactose Intolerance In Children

Best Bakersfield Children’s Pediatrician

Lactose intolerance is a lot more common than you realize and it's easy to develop as you get older. Did you know that it's possible to get congenital lactose intolerance in children when they're born with this condition? It can be problematic if not dealt with properly.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the condition when your body can't break down lactose (a natural sugar) the way it's supposed to. Lactose is most common in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, which are the three most common foods to cause problems for lactose-intolerant children. Basically, the small intestine isn't making enough of an enzyme called lactase, which is used in typical bodily functions to break down lactose.

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms On Children

Most of the symptoms of lactose intolerance will occur about 30 minutes after consumption of a dairy product. Some symptoms can take up to 2 hours to show up. So pay attention to your children during this time frame.  The most common symptoms include:

  • abdominal
  • cramps
  • bloating around the stomach
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

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.


There are a few ways that a doctor can diagnose lactose intolerance. If they're experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's a good idea to get them checked for it. The easiest (and most utilized) test is known as a lactose intolerance test. The patient's blood is measured when it reacts to a liquid with high lactose levels and can be diagnosed this way. 

There is also the hydrogen breath test, where the amount of hydrogen breathed out after consuming a high lactose drink is measured. For anyone that isn't digesting lactose properly, their level of hydrogen in the breath will be much higher than normal.


For ChildrenUnfortunately, there isn't much that can be done by way of treatment in children. Once you're diagnosed as intolerant, one must learn to live with it and change their lifestyle. Most people can still manage to have about half a cup of milk with no problems. However, they shouldn't have more than a half a cup of milk.

It's possible to get a lactase enzyme over-the-counter that can be taken before consuming lactose or dairy products, but this isn't a definitive fix. Instead, look into supplements that your child might become deficient in, like calcium and vitamin D, and make sure that they're getting sufficient replacements for them.


Lactose intolerance is seen as a nuisance, but luckily it's not the end of the world! It's easy to live with once you've experienced life without dairy. It's good to encourage your children to get used to changing their dietary so that they don't cause discomfort for themselves later in life.

For the best Bakersfield Children’s Pediatrics, check out Kern Pediatrics