Lactose Free Formula Rant!
Say No to Lactose Free Formula, from Parenting Solved
Human breastmilk is mostly lactose; human babies are built to ingest lactose. So when a baby can’t handle their mother’s milk, it’s almost never the lactose, which is milk sugar, it’s most often cow’s milk protein and/or soy protein that the mother is ingesting, or any number of other triggers. Typically infants are lactose tolerant and they lose the lactose tolerance over time (like after 4 to 5 yrs of age) if they develop a true “lactose intolerance” later in life. But the sugars (and sugar by-products) in soy, wheat, rice are sometimes what is “not tolerated” by infants. Lactose intolerance is exceedingly uncommon at infancy. I mean think about it, that nature would create an infant that can’t tolerate the mother’s milk. The data show it is crazy uncommon.
Anke T. writes: Lactose can be a huge concern for GERDlings. We read that here all the time. It is the lactose in highlands and in Prevacid solutabs. That does not mean the babies are lactose intolerant (even though some babies are born with a slight lactose deficiency, since these enzymes are about to be produced, and they can be low due to immaturity of GI tract), we read here all the time that babies react to these tiny amounts of lactose in medication.
It is not an issue for all babies. Breastfeeding is best when possible, and TED means the breastmilk becomes almost elemental. Still some babies may have problems with lactose then, but it is the minority and it is transient. This explains why some babies take a while longer to improve, even Mom is on TED. In the solutabs and highlands, the lactose is suspected, but no one knows if it is that, since the likelihood is high that there is some contamination with dairy too and the babies react due to their MSPI. In general, lactose is causing fewer problems. It is even in hypoallergenic formulas too, but some babies may still have issues with it. And a transient lactose deficiency after birth is not abnormal, and may happen every now and then. And these babies react to lactose in breastmilk, but it would not be worth to miss out on breastmilk because of that, since it will improve anyway.
A full blown lactose intolerance is rarely someone being born with, but having low enzymes (not just for lactose, the 3 other sugars too) is something that is happening in babies. No one will scope them, take biopsies and check for it–way too invasive–so it will be one of the things that is better one day and no one will ever know what it was. One of the mysterious “outgrow” things, that never was identified. The exact name is Developmental Lactase Deficiency. It is said that this happens when baby is born before 37 weeks, due to immaturity of the GI tract, but I think we see a lot of babies here with problems due to immature GI tract, even born full term.
HellBennt writes: What do I know? I breastfed my babies. However, I’ve been ‘around’ for 12 years now and I’ve noticed this (in my opinion) ridiculousness about lactose free formula! It seems to be the norm in Ireland, and I’m sure other places, when a baby has colic (UGH!!) or reflux (here’s Colic Vs. Reflux). Doesn’t anyone know that lactose is milk SUGAR and not milk PROTEIN and that breastmilk is largely comprised of lactose and therefore human babies are ‘designed’ to ingest it? Sure, there are some babies who cannot tolerate lactose and these babies are fairly rare- they may have congenital lactase deficiency and galactosemia. But really, I’ll have to look more into this and how rare it is!
Ok from the National Institute of Health:
Are there different types of lactose intolerance?
Individuals with lactose intolerance are unable to digest significant amounts of lactose due to an inadequate amount of the enzyme lactase. (see link above for source)
Research shows that lactase is high at birth in all infants regardless of race or ethnicity, but wanes by age 5 to 7 in non-Caucasians and other populations that don’t traditionally include dairy products in their diets. (see link above for source)
There are three main types of lactose intolerance:
• Primary lactose intolerance, in which individuals who were able to digest lactose previously begin experiencing symptoms of digestive discomfort with no history or signs of underlying intestinal disease, is the most
common form of lactase deficiency.
• Secondary lactose intolerance is the result of a gastrointestinal disease, such as severe gastroenteritis.
• Congenital lactose intolerance, such as galactosemia, is a lifelong complete absence of lactase, and it is relatively rare. However, it is not uncommon for secondary lactose intolerance to be misdiagnosed during the newborn period as congenital lactose intolerance.
Lactose-free formulas (including soy formulas) are often tried when a baby has symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as excessive bloating, gas, diarrhea, a red burn-like rash around the anus, and abdominal cramping. They are useful in babies who have rare metabolic diseases in which they are missing the enzyme that metabolize lactose. (This only occurs in around one of 65,000 babies.) Lactose-free formulas can also be tried in babies recovering from a diarrhea- producing illness and who suffer from a temporary lactase-deficiency while the intestinal lining is healing.
I do believe our reflux babies sometimes need specialized formulas! Of course! I just cannot bring myself to go along with all the doctors that are promoting lactose free formulas! Again, I find it to be rampant in other countries, not so much here in the US…
Sara F. writes: When it comes to GERD, you cannot make blanket statements such as “never” or “all babies do this or that” etc. My son could not tolerate anything with lactose, including Hylands or Prevacid. He had/has a true dairy allergy. Some babies with MSPI are fine with lactose, whether that be medical grade or not.