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Lactose is natural sugar found in milk and requires an enzyme lactase for its digestion. Deficiency of lactase leads to difficulty in digesting cow’s milk. It is neither contagious nor cancerous.

Signs & Symptons

  • Watery, frothy, greenish- yellow, sour smelling stools
  • Diaper rash
  • Vomiting (sometimes).
  • Slow weight gain, growth and development.


As mentioned, lactase is necessary to digest all milk except mother’s milk. Without it, sugars in milk absorb fluid and cause diarrhoea. Although some infants are born with the disorder, lactose intolerance usually develops later on.
Temporary lactose intolerance can occur in an infant after a severe bout of gastroenteritis that damages the intestinal lining.

Risk Increases With

Family history of enzyme-lactase deficiency.


Cannot be prevented at present. If you are pregnant and there is a history of lactose intolerance in your family, consider breast-feeding your baby for longer period. If not, you may need an alternate non-milk formula like soya milk.

Diagnostic Measures

  • Observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory studies, such as a stool exam both routine and for presence of reducing substance. Presence suggests lactose-intolerance.
  • X-rays of the lower intestinal tract.
  • Therapeutic trial with a milk-free diet.

Possible Complications

Infants with inherited deficiency will not thrive without treatment.

Probable Outcomes

This condition is currently considered incurable. Lactase is now commercially available and milk is to be treated in advance. Symptoms are relieved or controlled with a diet free of milk and milk products. Symptoms worsen at times for unexplained reasons.


A supplement to neutralize lactose in milk. The enzyme LACTASE is available to be added to milk and milk products.


No restrictions.


If the condition is present at birth, your doctor will probably prescribe an infant formula that contains little or no lactose, such as a soybean-based formula.
If the lactose intolerance is temporary and caused by gastroenteritis, the substitute formula should be necessary for a short time only. Cow’s milk can be introduced again later.

Contact your Doctor

  • Your child has diarrhoea, not responding to routine therapy.
  • Temperature rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
  • Your infant fails to gain weight.
  • Your infant refuses food or formula.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea reappears in a child who has previously had a temporary intolerance to milk or milk products.
  • A milk-free diet doesn’t relieve symptoms.