Could it Really be the Dairy? Lactose Intolerance in Children

I have two young children, a daughter and a son. As we all know, Calcium is an important part of any growing child’s diet and so it is recommended that they get calcium rich foods. We are usually told to use things like milk, cheese and yogurt, be it dairy or non-dairy. Unless we have a know problem with dairy, it usually tends to be the choice by default.

Both of my children have been exclusively breastfed. My daughter vomited any formula she was given so we just didn’t bother. My son was a bit different and he just flat out refused the formula. So we decided, hey, since I produce more than enough, why bother to buy formula.

My daughter who is 6, started to use cow’s milk when she was a little over a year and wanted things like cereal and yogurt. Two of her favourite things. When she did eat these things, she never had a problem, or so I thought, but now that I look back, maybe I was missing the sighs that she could have a sensitivity to lactose.

Could it Really be Dairy?
Could it Really be Dairy?

This past summer, I noticed one evening that my daughter had the most pungent body odor. I mean, this poor girl smelt like a man doing a full day’s hard labour without any deodorant. Naturally, I was a bit concerned, but I simply chalked it up to it being unusually hot for a tropical island and said she just needed to wash her underarms properly.

Another thing that I didn’t really relate to her dairy use was that she also complained for a tummy ache. Given that she can be a somewhat fussy eater and would prefer to eat a lot of snacks over food, I said I will monitor her stomach complaints. After all, she wasn’t having any frequent frequent bowel movements, so it could just be that she has some gas. Outside of this, she also had some green stool. Now, please don’t think I’m awful, but I figured the that green stools could be attributed to the dye in foods, so once again I figured it must be the sweets she had at camp or something. Not once did I think that all of this could be linked to a sensitivity to dairy.

With my son getting older and being exposed to new foods, I tend to buy yogurt for the kids. So of course, my daughter was drinking the milk, eating the yogurt and sometimes in between there, eating cheese and ice cream.

Time passes, I don’t really notice anymore of the armpit order, but I have also been taking special care in scrubbing them for her. She has since returned to school and during the first week, she once again complained for a headache, a stomachache and had a bout of vomiting and the occasional diarrhea. She had an episode of this during the summer as well. Now for a child that is never sick, I of course take her straight to the pediatrician.

During this very thorough visit, he indicates that it seems as though she has a viral infection (stomach bug) so she needs to avoid any greasy foods and dairy products (i.e. foods with lactose). He also said, while green stool is indeed abnormal, it is a sign that either the diet is too rich in fats (she does not consume a lot of greasy fatty foods) or the food is passing through the system and not being properly digested and hence the bile (which makes it green).

So to treat her, he puts her on a probiotic and instructs me to only give her lactose free products.

During the course of her treatment, she was fine. She did have a couple dairy products, like the occasional glass of milk but limited her intake of lactose by giving her lactose free yogurt. Well lets just say, when her medication course was over and she had regular yogurt and milk at school, the body odor and green stool returned.

Feeling frustrated, and somewhat concerned, I scoured the internet and let me tell you, there are so many people out there that have noticed that their young children get bad body odor when they consume dairy products.

While I did suspect that her complaints had something to do with her diet, it never occurred to me that it could be lactose related. Considering that I myself can’t use too much dairy without getting congested and my father, sister and a first cousin are all lactose intolerant, I guess I should have figured that is what it was, but I really did’t. Good thing is that now that I know what it is, I can alter her diet accordingly.


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