Lactose-intolerant kids should still eat dairy foods

By Tom Nordlie • Published: January 23rd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Kids love milk. Unfortunately, milk doesn’t always love them back.

A condition called lactose intolerance makes dairy products disagree with millions of youngsters.

Their bodies don’t produce enough of the enzyme needed to break down lactose, a form of sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance affects about seventy percent of the world’s population.

For these people, dairy foods can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and bloating.

Ethnic background plays a big role in determining who suffers from lactose intolerance.

The condition strikes as few as two percent of people from northern European backgrounds.

But for blacks and Hispanics, incidence can run as high as eighty percent. In Asians and Native Americans it’s even more common.

You might think lactose-intolerant kids should avoid milk. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says just the opposite.

In a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, the academy’s committee on nutrition recommends that children suffering from the condition consume plenty of dairy food.

The reason? Calcium. The mineral is crucial to bone formation. Previous studies showed that children who avoid milk don’t always get enough calcium.

The study offers some solutions…

Lactose-free milk is widely available. And many lactose-intolerant kids can comfortably eat small amounts of dairy food.

Some items, including aged cheeses and yogurt, contain less lactose and cause less digestive distress.

The important thing, researchers say, is to find a regimen that works.

So if milk doesn’t agree with a child in your life, try moo-ving on to other options. It’s udder-ly logical.