Pediatric Lactose Intolerance Follow-up

Updated: Oct 06, 2017
  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD, AGAF; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Milk is the primary source of calcium for children. Children who are lactose intolerant and do not ingest proper quantities of dairy products quickly become depleted of calcium, which places them at risk for rickets and osteomalacia. However, recently no evidence was found to substantiate the risk of low vitamin D levels in children with lactose intolerance. [17]

A controversial area is whether lactose intolerance is associated with short stature. Although some investigators have suggested that adequate calcium intake during the growth period may be critical for reaching optimal bone growth during the growing years, others have provided evidence of short stature in children with lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or those on milk-elimination diets. A recent study addressed this issue and found no evidence that lactose-intolerant children are at risk of short stature. [17]

Calcium supplementation through the administration of dietary or pharmacological supplements is suggested for any child who does not receive adequate calcium.


Patient Education

Lower calcium levels are found in individuals with lactose intolerance; thus, emphasizing the importance of calcium supplementation is important. Again, despite lactose malabsorption, adults with lactose intolerance are able to tolerate substantial amounts of lactose-containing dairy products, such as milk (and even more yogurts). [2]

Although the symptoms are directly related to the quantity of lactose ingested, the patient should be educated about the fact that lactose may be hidden, in low amounts, in the following foods:

  • Breads

  • Baked goods

  • Cereals

  • Instant mixes

  • Margarine

  • Dressings

  • Candies

  • Snacks

  • Some over-the-counter drugs can reduce symptoms (eg, simethicone for relief of flatulence, exogenous lactase drops or tablets derived from yeast)