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Thursday, November 04, 2010

LI and Pregnancy

Megan sent me the following email and said I could share it with you.

I am 27 and pregnant. And I recently discovered something I think is amazing and not very well known. I wanted to share in hopes of informing other pregnant women. Nearly half of women who are LI prior to pregnancy do not suffer from symptoms during pregnancy. I have done a little research on the topic and can't seem to find too much of a scientific explanation other than the slowed digestion that takes place. It seems as though the body recognizes the need for calcium in order to grow a healthy fetus and acts accordingly. I have been severely LI for 10 years and during this pregnancy I have been able to eat and drink ALL kinds of dairy with only slight discomfort a handful of times (and it's entirely possible I over did it those times due to my new found freedom. Lol)

I've written about this before over at my website. Many women have written to me. Some, like Megan, found that their LI symptoms went away during pregnancy. Others became LI during pregnancy but saw their symptoms go away later.

What gives? Well, Megan also sent a very good link to a pregnancy advice page featuring a response by Joanne Saab, RD. Saab "is a registered dietitian who practices in pediatrics at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario." And she writes:
This is actually a very common phenomenon during pregnancy. Many women find they experience an improvement in lactose tolerance when they get pregnant and, for some, this ability to digest lactose remains after they deliver, but for others their lactose intolerance returns or even becomes worse.

Healthcare professionals often talk about a "rule of thirds" during pregnancy. The "rule of thirds" means that approximately one third of pregnant women will see an improvement in their symptoms, one third will remain the same, and one third will see their symptoms worsen. This rule of thirds can occur with many conditions, including: migraine headaches, eczema, asthma and lactose intolerance. Researchers still don't completely understand why this happens, although some attribute it to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Yep, yet another thing about lactose intolerance that doctors don't understand. (Remember my million-part series on the State of the Science Lactose Intolerance Conference at the National Institutes of Health? Here's a summary to start with.)

All I can suggest is that you experiment with small amounts of easily digestible dairy products like yogurt and hard cheeses first and then progress onto to other types of dairy if you can tolerate those. You may be part of the lucky third.

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