Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Babies Aren't Lactose Intolerant

The public level of understanding about lactose intolerance has increased about a million per cent since I first heard the term in 1978. That was when I was diagnosed with a problem that was totally new to me.

Today, most people have at least heard the term. Perhaps too many. Ever since I started answering emails from the public I've run into those who know that milk causes some kind of problem and since they've heard the term lactose intolerance, that must be what they have.

Too often that's wrong. Especially when parents are talking about their babies. Hardly any infants under the age of three are lactose intolerant, except for the one percent who at any given time have had their lactase-making ability knocked out by some gastrointestinal illness.

Not only do parents get this wrong, but often dietitians, nutritionists, and even doctors seem to mess this us.

That's why it was refreshing to read Dr. Sue Abell's column in which she gets it all correct.

Poor Dr. Sue got a letter from a mother than contained all the confusion and misunderstandings I so often see from parents:

My daughter is lactose intolerant, just like her father and his mother. I'm concerned about getting enough calcium into her once she's no longer on formula. (My husband won't drink soy milk, so I'm thinking she won't either.) I'm assuming she'll be lactose intolerant for life. She drinks soy formula now and is doing much better.

Dr. Sue's response is too long to quote, so please click the link above and check it out. She starts with a sensible paragraph that cuts through the clutter:
I seriously doubt that your daughter is lactose intolerant, and you'll see why in a moment. It sounds like your baby had some sort of reaction when she drank one of the cow's milk formulas, and she was switched to a soy formula and the symptoms resolved. Or she may have even had symptoms with breastfeeding and improved when you stopped breastfeeding and changed to a soy formula.

Although some immune response symptoms to an allergy can include gastrointestinal problems, allergy and intolerance are totally different problems.

Don't just write to an advice doctor about your child. See your own pediatrician and make sure you ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers.

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