LACTOSE INTOLERANCE - THE MYTH OF THE BREASTFED BABY
When a breastfed baby is fussy or “gasey,” we often tend to blame mom’s diet as a potential cause. Lately, more mention has been towards mom’s milk intake and its effects on baby’s GI system. Hopefully the following information will clear up the confusion.
As most know, the enzyme lactase converts lactose into simple sugars that can be easily utilized by the infant. It is present at birth and found in the intestinal mucosa. Lactose enhances calcium absorption and metabolizes readily into galactose and glucose, which supply energy to the rapidly growing brain of the infant.
According to the book Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, “congenital or primary lactase deficiency is exceedingly rare and some authorities question its existence.”
Lactose intolerance, however, is more common as we grow older and is a result of diminishing lactase. This occurs gradually, over a period of many years and would not cause sudden diarrhea or gastrointestinal upsets in infants. Its symptoms don’t appear before the age of four or five and usually not until young adulthood.
Yes, it is true that maternal diet can affect the concentration of lactose in mature breastmilk. However, as stated above, this should not affect baby.
P.S. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in adults of Asian and African heritage.