Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Protein Allergy

Lactose Intolerance


What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar of milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into simpler forms that can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is not enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose consumed, the results, although not usually dangerous, may be very distressing.

Common symptoms include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea, which begin about 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each individual can tolerate.

Some causes of lactose intolerance are well known. For instance, certain digestive diseases (i.e. gastro-enteritis) and injuries to the small intestine can reduce the amount of enzymes produced. In rare cases, children are born without the ability to produce lactase. For most people, though, lactase deficiency is a condition that develops naturally over time. After about the age of 2 years, the body begins to produce less lactase. However, many people may not experience symptoms until they are much older.

How is Lactose Intolerance Treated?

Fortunately, lactose intolerance is relatively easy to treat. No treatment exists to improve the body’s ability to produce lactase, but symptoms can be controlled through diet.

In older children and adults: -

Most older children and adults need not avoid lactose completely, but individuals differ in the amount of lactose they can handle. For example, one person may suffer symptoms after drinking a small glass of milk, while another can drink one glass but not two. Others may be able to manage ice cream and aged cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss but not other dairy products. Dietary control of lactose intolerance depends on each person’s learning through trial and error how much lactose he or she can handle.

For those who react to very small amounts of lactose or have trouble limiting their intake of foods that contain lactose, lactase enzymes are available without a prescription. One form is a liquid for use with milk. A few drops are added, and then after 24 hours in the refrigerator, the lactose content is reduced by 70 percent. A more recent development is a chewable lactase enzyme tablet that helps people digest solid foods that contain lactose. Three to six tablets are taken just before a meal or snack.

Lactose-reduced milk and other products are available at many supermarkets. The milk contains all of the nutrients found in regular milk and remains fresh for about the same time or longer if it is super-pasteurised.

In infants and young children: -

Congenital Alactasia is an extremely rare condition whereby babies are born without any lactase (the enzyme needed to break down milk sugars), making human milk unsuitable for the baby, precluding breastfeeding. These babies must be fed a special lactose-free formula to survive (soya formula, or dairy based but lactose free).

Functional Lactase Deficiency describes a thriving breastfed baby who has multiple loose watery stools. The baby may be irritable and may pass flatus frequently. Low fat feeds result in rapid gastric emptying leading to large quantities of lactose being presented for digestion. Thus the ability of lactase to digest the lactose may be overwhelmed. The amount of fat being consumed at any feed should therefore be maximised to delay gastric emptying. This can best be achieved by optimising hind milk intake by:

• Encouraging the infant to finish the first breast before offering the second breast.

• Spacing feeds. Aim for three hours between feeds. If the baby demands again in less than this time offer the “empty” breast again.

As lactose is the main form of carbohydrate in all mammalian milks (including human milk), lactose production at the breast occurs independently of dietary changes. Reducing the amount of lactose in the diet of a breastfeeding mother does not alter lactose production at the breast. It is present at a constant level throughout a feed and throughout a day.

Primary acquired lactase deficiency is an age-related condition and occurs after weaning and before the age of six years. Young children with this form of lactase deficiency should not eat any foods containing lactose; weaned infants require a lactose free formula (soya formula, or dairy based but lactose free).

Secondary acquired lactose intolerance occurs as a result of damage to the small intestinal mucosa that commonly in infants is due to gastro-enteritis. This is treated by the introduction of a lactose free formula to the infant’s diet.

Depending on the severity of the illness partial breastfeeding may still be possible. If the infant has recently had gastro-enteritis average recovery time is four weeks. Weekly challenges with breast milk should be attempted until it becomes tolerated.


Milk Protein Allergy


What is Milk Protein Allergy?

A food allergy exists when a body has an abnormal reaction to food. A person who is allergic to dairy is normally reacting to one or more proteins found in cow’s milk. Typical reactions to milk protein(s) allergy involve problems associated with the skin, the stomach/intestines and or breathing.

Allergies to milk protein are more common in infants and children, and are usually to casein. Generally, adults milk reactions are caused by lactose but adults have been known to be allergic to milk protein. Milk protein allergy in infants can be detected as early as 9 days.

Milk Protein Allergy Reactions: -
Skin reactions:
Itchy red rash
Eczema
Hives (urticaria)
Swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat
Allergic “Shiners”
Stomach and intestinal reactions
Abdominal pain
Vomiting
Diarrhoea
Gas
Cramping
Nose, throat and lung reactions:
Watery and/or itchy eyes or itchy nose
Runny nose (rhinorrhea: heavy discharge from nose)
Sneezing
Coughing
Wheezing
Shortness of breath
Other more long-term symptoms can include:
Depression
Anxiety
Lethargy and fatigue
Migraine
Sleeplessness
Irritability
Inattentiveness
Children may have a ‘glazed’ look
Hyperactivity in children
Bed-wetting in children


Dietary Therapy for Milk Protein Allergies

The dietary therapy approach to this allergy is to remove ALL obvious and hinder sources or dairy in the diet. This sounds like a simple idea at first until you realise the many forms animal milks take in modem foods. But with dedication to the task and armed with a few new basic shopping and cooking hints, a list of dairy ingredient names and often a good pair of glasses anyone can totally remove dairy from a person’s diet. To be honest it takes two months of focused dedication to adjust your lifestyle and feel comfortable with the changes that are required. But the nice thing is you will see very positive changes in your special child’s or adult’s life within a week or so.

Dietary Therapy for Milk Protein Allergy in Infants

If weaned, usually soy based formula, although 25% of infants allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. These babies are put on pre-digested formula e.g. Pregestimil or Nutramigen, which have all the properties and carbohydrates hydrolysed (broken down).

If breastfed, the mother may need to go on a dairy free diet herself to eliminate the possibility of milk products reaching the baby through her breast milk.


Tips for parents of food allergic / lactose intolerant children

• If you buy a specific brand of food you know contains no dairy, you should still check the label every time you purchase it. Several companies add dairy without changing the artwork on the packaging!

• If your child has been diagnosed with “colic”, question the possibility that he/she cannot tolerate dairy, eggs, peanuts, wheat, dyes or more!

• When filling prescriptions for your child, be sure the medication contains no dairy products. Your pharmacist may need to call the manufacturer to obtain a list of inactive ingredients. Some common caplet/tablet medications use lactose as a binder or sweetener.

• Be careful when purchasing children’s vitamins, which often contain lactose.

• If your child is egg allergic, you can substitute a mixture of 1 1/2 tablespoons water + 1 1/2 tablespoons oil + 1 teaspoon baking powder, mixed together, for one egg. For two eggs, just double this. Also, 1 heaped teaspoon of arrowroot powder to each cup of flour in non-dairy, non-egg baking in addition to the egg substitute will keep your baking product firm and crisp!

• Many children become hyper or aggressive when eating food additives such as dyes, MSG, sulfites and phosphates. Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein is 40% MSG. If your child tends to be “hyper”, try to stay away from these additives.

• It is important to have a good physician or allergist who can guide you on your allergic child’s health and diet.

Milk related ingredients and dairy free food items list

References
Web sites:
Laureen Lawlor-Smith BMBS IBCLC, Carolyn Lawlor-Smith BMBS IBCLC FRACGP – Lactose Intolerance
National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse – Lactose Intolerance
Non Dairy: Something to Moo About – Newcomers Guide
Children with Milk Allergies and other Food Allergies
Other useful links:
Cows Milk Allergy – An Update on Adverse Reactions – http://www.allergyclinic.co.nz/guides/43.html
Everybody Allergy Centre:- Understanding allergy
Food allergy
Milk Free Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers – Crown Public Health

 

© Gastric Reflux Association for the Support of Parents/babies (GRASP) and Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust (GRSNNZ) 2004. Used and edited by GRSNNZ with permission.

Page may be printed or reproduced for personal use of families, as long as copyright and Crying Over Spilt Milk‘s URL are included. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission and acknowledgement. This information (unedited) was also provided (by GRASP) to health professionals in New Zealand to use ” to continue to support and inform families with babies/children with Gastro-oesophageal Reflux.”

  • Anyone else dealing with older children with reflux would love to hear from you my Miss 11 year old seems to be having a relapse . So after nearly 4 years losec free in this household we have it back.

  • There have been some new posts - sorry I haven't had a chance to pop on over and answer. Can anyone share their experiences? Remember, no medical advice. :-)

  • As per my post yesterday, our membership form and newsletter archive for members is now available again. Please consider joining Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust for access to our Newsletters and Private Local and National Support Networks: http://www.reflux.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/grsnnz-membership-confidentiality-agreement-form/ Membership is free, and this gives you opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe and confidential setting. Thanks to one of our amazing webhosts http://www.webmad.co.nz/ for the smooth change-over.

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  • The website our membership form is on and where are newsletters are archived is down for maintenance until late tomorrow evening - Monday at the latest. If you were wanting to complete a membership form, please do check back as we would love to meet you. I'll post an update when it is available again. www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz is available as usual although it the server it is on is changing tomorrow evening also - hopefully there will be no disruption.

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  • A question please -my daughter has twin girls aged 3 weeks.They were premature born at 35 weeks 3 days.One of them is fine breastfed and sleep.However the other one grunts and groans,pulls her legs up and sometimes cries after each feed.She does not settle well at all.Could this be reflux or what.I know it's early days but my daughter is exhausted!!Any suggestions would be great.Thanks

  • I have a question for mothers who have tried feed thickner. Can constipation occur when using this? I have checked the karicare website but does not state any side effects.

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  • Hi there, I just want to say how helpful your website is, it is jam packed full of useful info! Thank you for being here!!!!!

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  • My 10 week old son is in starship due to heart condition. His omeprizol has just been doubled to try and ease his discomfort with reflux. He is now on twice daily but a nurse said she had heard it was more effective given as a single dose? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a single dose? Sometimes the doctors listen to me and sometimes they dont so id need to have my facts straight if wanting them to change it. He has his omeproxol via ng and gaviscon mixed with pepti junior

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  • My baby is 10weeks (5weeks corrected) and can not sleep on her back at all since this has her coughing and spluttering when not just straight up projectile vomiting. It seems to be worse now she is on thickened formula (alongside omaprozole) esp at night it's like she can't actually spit up the feed anymore (or multiple hours later) as its thicker and therefore she stays choking on it. Does anyone have any nighttime tips it scares me

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  • Hi everyone. I have my second reflux baby (lucky me). She's nine weeks old, spills at least four times per feed, enough to warrant a full change of clothes! She's been on omeprazole (cot also raised) since 5 weeks of age and she's a lovely settled baby now. But, my question for you other parents is how do you handle night feeds? Keely will be lovely relaxed and settled, even asleep and then the spilling starts when she's back in bed. This keeps us up for an hour post feed including changing clothes, cloths under her head etc and of course re settling an over tired baby. I'm a bit rusty. What sort of night feed routine do you follow?