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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lactose-Free Milk May Help Diarrhea in Children

The British newspaper The Guardian published a health article in conjunction with the BMJ Group, the BMJ standing for nothing less than the British Medical Journal. That means the advice came with footnotes referencing the actual medical journal articles that backed up the words. Excuse me while I fan myself from the palpitations. Stuff this wonderful doesn't come across every day.

The article answered a question that most parents have to deal with at some point in their youngsters' early lives, What treatments work for diarrhoea in children?

One treatment that might work, though they hedge the answer within an inch of its life, is substituting lactose-free milk for regular milk.

There has been a lot of debate about whether babies with diarrhoea should be given formula milk that is lactose-free while they recover. Lactose-free formula milk does not have cow's milk in it. The theory is that the part of the gut that helps to digest lactose is damaged in diarrhoea so that lactose-free formula milk might be easier to digest. But lactose-free formula milk is usually recommended only in children who have had diarrhoea for a long time.

There have been some studies but the results haven't given us a clear answer about whether formula milk that is lactose-free is better than standard formula milk.

One summary of the research (a systematic review) that looked at 13 studies found that diarrhoea or dehydration was more likely to get worse in babies who had normal formula milk (about 2 in 10 babies) compared to those who had lactose-free formula milk (about 1 in 10 babies).[6] Babies on lactose-free milk got better faster (after about three and a half days) compared to those on normal formula milk (about four days).

Out of five other studies, three found that diarrhoea stopped more quickly in babies who were given lactose-free formula milk.[7] [8] [9] In the two other studies the special formula milk made no difference.[10] [11]

There don't seem to be any side effects from using lactose-free formula milk.

6. Brown KH, Peerson JM, Fontaine O. Use of nonhuman milks in the dietary management of young children with acute diarrhea: a meta-analysis of clinical trials. Pediatrics. 1994; 93: 17-27.

7. Allen UD, McLeod K, Wang EE. Cow's milk versus soy-based formula in mild and moderate diarrhea: a randomized, controlled trial. Acta Paediatrica. 1994; 83: 183-187.

8. Fayad IM, Hashem M, Husseine A, et al. Comparison of soy-based formulas with lactose and with sucrose in the treatment of acute diarrhoea in infants. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 1999; 153: 675-680.

9. Wall CR, Webster J, Quirk P, et al. The nutritional management of acute diarrhea in young infants: effect of carbohydrate ingested. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 1994; 19: 170-174.

10. Clemente YF, Tapia CC, Comino AL, et al. Lactose-free formula versus adapted formula in acute infantile diarrhea. Anales Espanola Pediatria. 1993; 39: 309-312.

11. Lozano JM, Cespedes JA. Lactose vs. lactose free regimen in children with acute diarrhoea: a randomized controlled trial. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion. 1994; 44: 6-11.


You should also note that:
Rehydration drinks (also called oral rehydration solutions) contain a mix of salts and sugar to help your body replace fluids and salts lost through diarrhoea. They do not stop the diarrhoea. But they can prevent your child getting dehydrated.

This is the safest treatment and it should be tried first.

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2 comments:

Parag said...

Some babies may become lactose intolerant during diarrhea and in these cases it is advisable to avoid any milk products including breast feeding.
Diarrhea In Children

ehealth city said...

If infants small intestine does not produces much lactose then this may cause nausea, diarrhoea in children, pain etc..