AAP Recommends Lactose Intolerant Children Consume Some Dairy Products

A new clinical report published in the September issue of Pediatrics recommends that children who are lactose intolerant still should eat some dairy products as an important source of calcium for bone mineral health and of other nutrients that facilitate growth. report was authored for the Committee on Nutrition by Melvin B. Heyman, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of California, San Francisco. A press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) follows: CHICAGO - According to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children who are lactose intolerant should continue to eat some dairy foods to maintain recommended daily levels of calcium and vitamin D. Lactose intolerance can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, flatulence, and other digestive discomfort; diminish quality of life; and decrease attendance in school, leisure and sports activities. The AAP report, "Lactose Intolerance in Infants, Children and Adolescents," also says pediatricians should consider age and ethnicity when diagnosing a child with this condition. More than 70 percent of the world's population has a lactase deficiency, although it is disproportionately found in populations with non-dairy diets, including Asian and Native American (nearly 100 percent), Hispanic (80 percent), black (60 to 80 percent) and Ashkenazi Jewish (60 to 80 percent). Only 2 percent of European populations are lactose intolerant. Children in a high-risk ethnic group for lactose intolerance may develop symptoms as early as age 2 or 3; Caucasian children, no earlier than age 4 or 5. Lactose intolerance is rarely found in children younger than age 2 or 3, and such symptoms before age 2 may indicate another condition, such as an acute infection or bowel injury, requiring further testing. As calcium is important for bone mineralization and essential for child growth, the report does not recommend eliminating dairy products to treat lactose intolerance. Children should continue to include calcium and/or non-dairy foods containing calcium and vitamin D in their diets to get their recommended daily levels. Yogurts and cheeses may be better tolerated than regular milk, and along with lactose-free milk, can provide alternative sources of calcium. END AAP Contact: Mindy Weinstein, 847-434-7131. For more information: Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, at 415-476-5892, or Phyllis Brown at 415-476-3024. Related Links:
"Lactose Intolerance in Infants, Children, and Adolescents"
Melvin B. Heyman, MD, MPH for the Committee on Nutrition
Pediatrics Vol. 118 No. 3 September 2006, pp. 1279-1286
Abstract | Full Text | Full Text (PDF)