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Caring for children with lactose intolerance

Learn how our Gastroenterology, Liver and Nutrition Program cares for children with lactose intolerance.

Related tests and treatments:

Our approach to lactose intolerance

The GI specialists at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are experts in treating children with lactose intolerance and are knowledgeable on the latest and best treatment approaches to manage your child’s symptoms and maximize his or her nutrition. We take a noninvasive approach and use tests only when necessary, preferring to start with a two-week dairy elimination trial to see if that helps your child feel better. If the gastrointestinal problems persist, we will work closely with your family to identify and treat other potential causes for your child’s symptoms.

Lactose intolerance services we offer

Diagnosing and treating lactose intolerance

If the doctor suspects lactose intolerance based on your child’s symptoms and medical history, he or she may suggest your child eliminate dairy foods for two weeks. If a dairy-free diet improves your child’s symptoms, no further testing is necessary.

If the results are unclear, the doctor may use a hydrogen breath test or take a biopsy sample of the small intestine to analyze lactase enzyme levels. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of the few hospitals in the nation that offers a laboratory that can measure enzyme activity in the small intestine.

Diet is often key to managing lactose intolerance symptoms, and our skilled dietitians can offer guidance on how to avoid problematic foods while still ensuring that your child gets enough calcium. However, avoiding dairy doesn’t work for all children. A high-sugar diet, imbalance in your child’s gut bacteria and some other GI conditions can also cause similar symptoms. Whatever the cause, our specialists will work with your family to help improve your child’s symptoms and quality of life.

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