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The most common signs of lactose intolerance in toddlers are typically stomach cramping, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms often present themselves between 30 minutes and a few hours after a toddler has consumed a dairy product. Some toddlers may not have these symptoms to as great a degree as others because lactose intolerance levels vary with each child. It is possible for many lactose intolerant toddlers to be able to have small amounts of dairy without any problems, while even a minute amount in others could bring on severe symptoms.
Lactose intolerance in toddlers should be diagnosed by a doctor before a parent does away with dairy products. If lactose intolerance is suspected, it may be a good idea for parents to keep track of how often dairy products were consumed by their child and how long afterward before symptoms were experienced. This information can help a doctor decide if lactose tolerance could be causing the problems. A doctor can then do some tests to confirm his or her suspicions.
Doctors typically perform a series of simple tests to diagnose lactose intolerance in toddlers. The first test performed generally involves having the toddler fast for a few hours and then consume something containing lactose. Blood sugar levels are sampled afterward to see how easily the lactose is being digested. After this test, a hydrogen breath test and a stool acidity test may be performed. High levels of hydrogen in the breath normally indicate undigested lactose, as do high levels of acid in the stool.
Treating lactose intolerance in toddlers is generally very simple. Avoiding foods containing lactose, which includes dairy products, is required the majority of the time to eliminate symptoms. Parents will need to closely examine their child's reaction to lactose to determine how much, if any, lactose can be allowed. Dairy products are a major source of calcium in the diet of the average person, so it is crucial that parents of lactose intolerant toddlers provide another calcium source. Most green vegetables and some types of fish are considered acceptable substitutes.
Most of the time, symptoms of lactose intolerance in toddlers do not surface until around three years of age. Lactose intolerance is not always a lifelong problem. Babies who are diagnosed as lactose intolerant are usually able to tolerate dairy as they get older. Many toddlers and children who are affected may also eventually outgrow it and consume dairy with no problems later in their lives.