What is Lactose?
Lactose is the sugar found in milk and milk products. Human breast milk contains around 7% lactose and formula contains a similar amount.
Lactose is broken down in the stomach by the enzyme Lactase into Glucose and Galactose, which can then be absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body.
What is lactose overload?
Lactose overload is a temporary problem where an overload of lactose (sugar) occurs and the baby’s digestive system is unable to produce sufficient quantities of the digestive enzyme lactase to break down all of the lactose received.
Around two thirds of healthy, thriving breastfed babies experience some degree of lactose overload in the early months of life due to foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. Formula feed babies can also experience gastric symptoms due to lactose overload as a result of receiving excessive volumes of milk.
What are the symptoms of lactose overload?
- Frequent watery bowel motions (may be green)
- Bowel motions may be slightly to very offensive
- Irritability and screaming
- Baby appears to be constantly hungry
- Baby gains a large amount of weight
- Symptoms more obvious in the evening
- Baby is usually less than 3 months old, but this problem can continue to the age of 5 months
How is lactose overload different from lactose intolerance?
Essentially, Lactose Overload is as a result of too much Lactose taken in and the baby cannot produce sufficient quantities of the enzyme Lactase quickly enough. Lactose overload is frequently misdiagnosed as lactose intolerance. Lactose Intolerance is as a result of the baby not producing sufficient quantities of the enzyme Lactase. Both conditions display identical gastric symptoms. However, unlike lactose intolerance, where the child fails to gain weight (or loses weight) and is very unwell, an infant with lactose overload is healthy and thriving.
What to do if you think your baby may have Lactose Overload.
Breast feeding mums
Reduce or Eliminate all dairy from your own diet for 7 days to outrule cows milk protein sensitivity as a possible cause of lactose overload due to reduced production of lactase enzyme.
Ensure you are giving your baby sufficient foremilk and hindmilk proportions. If you are unsure, see a Breastfeeding Consultant.
You can use Colief Drops at each feed. Feed baby for 10 minutes and then apply the drops on to the nipple and continue to feed.
Bottle Feeding mums
Stick to a regular 4 hourly feeding pattern if possible.
Add Colief drops to each bottle.
If your baby has Lactose Overload these steps should improve the symptoms by 70% within 7-10 days.
As this is a temporary condition, once you have a regular feeding routine established and the symptoms have resolved, the above measures may be discontinued. However do continue to monitor your baby should symptoms return.
You should always consult a Health Professional if you are concerned about your baby.
Frank Kelleher Cranial Osteopath
The Children’s Clinic
Model Farm Road