Milk Sugar Tolerance

Topic Overview

At first, newborns who are given formula may not be able to digest all of the milk sugar (lactose) in the formula they drink. The undigested lactose moves to the large intestine and causes cramps, bloating, or gas. As the baby grows, he or she is better able to digest the lactose, and the symptoms disappear.

Babies who are only fed breast milk do not have milk sugar intolerance, because breast milk contains lactase, an enzyme that helps digest lactose.

Milk sugar intolerance is similar to lactose intolerance in older children and adults. But it is temporary and does not mean that the baby will be lactose-intolerant as an adult.

Dietary supplements or lactase products for lactose intolerance (such as Lactaid) should not be given to babies.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised June 28, 2013

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