What Are The Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Babies?

Lactose intolerance is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract in which lactose (a sugar found in the milk and other dairy products) is not digested due to lack of an enzyme named lactase. It is also found in the breast milk not depend on the mother’s diet. Some Babies develop lactose intolerance soon after birth, especially premature babies.

The condition goes in a few days or few weeks by itself. Its symptoms are irritability, frequent crying, diarrhea, and flatulence. It is not the same as an allergy to milk or intolerance to a protein found in the milk.

What Are The Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance In Babies?

Lactose intolerance is a condition marked by the deficiency of an intestinal enzyme lactase in the body. Lactose is a sugar found in the milk and many dairy products. Lactose is the main source of carbohydrates for babies. It breaks down into two components of sugar, glucose, and galactose. A digestive enzyme named lactase is secreted in the small intestine of the body that breaks down lactose into these sugar components. These components get absorbed into the blood for further body utilization in the form of energy.

Some babies cannot tolerate lactose even in breast milk. In premature babies, sufficient amount of lactase is not produced in their small intestine and they cannot tolerate lactose in breast milk or cow’s milk. The lactose is not absorbed properly. It is digested in the large intestine by the bacteria leading to digestive symptoms in the babies. This also results in malabsorption of the nutrients and dehydration leading to difficulties in weight gain.

However, lactose intolerance in babies is quite rare. The concentration of lactose in the breast milk is not dependent on the lactose-containing diet of the mother. There is no variation in the amount of the lactose in the breast milk from the beginning to the end in a breastfeed.

The Causes Of Lactose Intolerance In Babies Are As Follows

Hereditary Lactose Intolerance- some babies are born with the genetic defect that lactase enzyme is not formed in their gut. These babies cannot tolerate milk from the first milk feeds itself and symptoms can be fatal for them.

Primary Lactose Intolerance- those babies who are born with less lactase enzyme and the amount goes lesser with the age have primary lactose intolerance. These babies are given small quantities of milk and milk alternatives to meet daily requirements.

Secondary Lactose Intolerance- damage caused by the illness to the small intestine can also result in the insufficient production of the lactase enzyme. This condition is known as secondary lactose intolerance. The illnesses that can trigger lactose intolerance are gastroenteritis, celiac disease, parasitic infection, food allergies or intolerance caused due to chemicals entering in the breast milk, or any bowel surgery. The secondary lactose intolerance is temporary and sooner the gut heals, faster the lactose intolerance goes. The symptoms settle down in 3 to 4 weeks.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance vary from baby to baby depending upon the causes and amount of enzyme lactase produced in the body. Symptoms generally appear in few minutes to few hours after the feed. The symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies are-

  • The baby is flatulent and passing gas all the time.
  • The baby is always fussy, crying and irritable.
  • The Baby is unable to gain weight.
  • The baby is dehydrated.
  • The Stool is frothy, runny and bloody.
  • The Baby vomits out excessively.
  • Diaper rash is also very common.
  • Milk rash is visible on the face of the baby.


Lactose intolerance is a gastric condition characterized by a deficiency of the lactase enzyme in the body. This condition can be temporary or permanent and commonly affect newly born babies, especially premature ones.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2018

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