Kids & Lactose Intolerance: What You Need to Know

  • Article
  • February 19, 2014

As a parent, you try your best to keep your kids healthy, but it's not always easy.

There’s so much information out there that it can be difficult to know what really is best for you and your family. For example, we know some people have questions about lactose intolerance, and we want to help. 

Let’s start with the basics. Lactose intolerance is actually a type of food sensitivity. Essentially, people who are lactose intolerant don't have enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the natural sugar found in milk called lactose, in their systems. 

While it’s possible for children to have a lactase deficiency, most don't experience the symptoms until late-adolescence or adulthood. Some of those symptoms may include gas, bloating and stomach cramps. If your child has these symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor to find out if he or she has a lactase deficiency or if it’s something else. 

Only your child's doctor will be able to diagnose lactose intolerance. During your talk, your doctor will also be able to help you figure out how you can manage it. 

If the diagnosis is lactose intolerance, it may not mean that you have to cut out milk, cheese and yogurt from your child’s diet. In fact, there are many ways that folks who live with lactose intolerance can still enjoy their favorite foods like milk with cereal, grilled cheese and yogurt smoothies.This is especially important since those foods contain the calcium, vitamin D, protein and other nutrients that their growing bodies need. 

How? It can be simple. Some foods, like natural cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Colby, Parmesan and others, are naturally low in lactose, while others like yogurt contain live and active cultures that can help digest lactose. Slowly increasing how much milk your child drinks each day can also help, plus, you can always try lactose-free milk, which is slightly sweeter and goes well with cereal.