Lactose-free baby milk is a cow’s milk-based formula specially developed for babies who are lactose intolerant. A lactose-free formula may be needed if a baby has difficulty digesting lactose, which occurs naturally in cow’s milk. Less commonly, babies can develop a condition called galactosemia, in which exposure to formula-containing lactose can be life-threatening.
There are many types of formulas and choosing between them can be challenging. If your baby has digestive issues, the decisions can be even more confusing. Here are some things to consider when considering whether lactose-free formula is a good choice for your baby. You can opt for L-Zero, which is one of the most efficient LFF available in the Indian market. Furious Nutritions, a top manufacturer of infant formula in India deals in the best quality bay formulas.
What is a lactose-free formula?
Lactose-free formulas are usually made from cow’s milk that has been refined to remove the lactose and replace it with another form of sugar. Instead of using lactose as a carbohydrate source, the lactose-free formula uses a corn-based source
Even if lactose-free formulas or soy formulas do not contain lactose, lactose-free formulas are made from cow’s milk and therefore contain cow’s milk protein. This formula cannot be tolerated by babies who are truly allergic to the proteins found in cow’s milk.
Low lactose formula – Low lactose formula is not the same as lactose-free formula. They still contain some lactose but in smaller doses. Low-lactose colostrum can be a good choice for babies who are gassy, fussy, spit up a lot, or have common illnesses.
Lactose intolerance – Lactose intolerance is an impaired ability to digest the sugar lactose. To digest lactose, the body must produce an enzyme called lactase. Some babies don’t produce enough of this enzyme. The frequency of this condition is unknown, but the permanent inability to produce lactase is rare.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- loose stools
- abdominal pain
Primary lactase deficiency
Some babies cannot produce enough lactase for a long time, which is known as primary or congenital lactase deficiency. This condition occurs when a baby is born without the lactase enzyme and is caused by inheriting genes from each parent. Primary lactase deficiency is very rare. Babies with this condition require special formula milk, such as soy or lactose-free formula.
Secondary lactase deficiency
Infants and children sometimes experience a temporary decrease in lactase availability, which is known as secondary lactase deficiency. This condition can occur after diarrhoea that damages the intestinal lining. Rotavirus and Giardia are two common organisms that can damage the gut and cause temporary lactose intolerance. Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can also cause it
Premature babies can have lactase deficiency. This is a temporary condition that lasts only a short time after birth. These babies can usually tolerate lactose at some point Temporary lactose intolerance usually does not require a switch to a lactose-free formula. Once the underlying medical condition is treated, lactose intolerance usually resolves.
Galactosemia is a rare condition in which a baby is unable to break down the sugar galactose, which is part of the larger sugar lactose. Mutations in a gene that affects the enzyme that breaks down galactose cause the condition.
There are several types of galactosemia:
- Classic galactosemia (also known as Type I): The most common and severe form, which can be life-threatening if not treated with a low-galactose diet
- Deficiency of galactokinase (also known as Type II): Causes fewer medical problems than classic, but babies can develop cataracts
- Galactose Epimerase Deficiency (also known as Type III): Varies from mild to severe and can include complications such as cataracts, growth retardation, mental retardation, liver problems, and kidney problems
Other stomach problems
Lactose intolerance is not responsible for all stomach problems in babies. Allergies, reflux, and colic are all things that can cause discomfort to your baby. Sometimes detective work is needed to determine the cause of the problem.
Cow’s Milk Allergy
Cow’s milk is one of the top allergens for children. However, this allergy is usually caused by the protein in milk, not lactose (sugar). Milk protein allergy can be present at birth or develop as a child grows. Lactose intolerance is more common in children aged 2 years and over. Symptoms of a milk protein allergy include:
- itchy rash
- Have a cold
Parents sometimes confuse the symptoms of a milk protein allergy with colic, bloating, or other common digestive problems in babies. More serious reactions to milk protein include swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, and anaphylaxis. If your baby has a severe reaction to a potential allergen, call 911.
Reflux – Babies with reflux spit little milk after feeding. Reflux is common and occurs in more than half of babies. Most often, spitting up is a normal occurrence that doesn’t cause pain or crying. But sometimes it’s more difficult. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs in less than 1% of infants. Weak valves at the top of the stomach cause GERD. Overeating tends to trigger it.
GERD symptoms include:
- choking on spitting
- baby looked uncomfortable and cried
- Poor weight gain
Reflux is treated by changing the diet of the nursing parents (if they are breastfeeding), eating smaller and more frequent meals, holding the baby upright, burping, and sometimes medication. If your baby has no other symptoms of cow’s milk intolerance, switching to formula may not help.
Colic is the term used to describe bouts of inconsolable crying in babies. Colic is characterized by crying that lasts more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, and more than three weeks. It affects between 10% and 40% of infants.10 The cause of colic is unknown.
While there’s no definitive treatment for colic, your doctor may suggest that you try different things to see if they help. Options like probiotics, medications, and switching to hydrolysed formulas can help.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between conditions that can cause similar symptoms in babies. Consult your paediatrician to diagnose allergies, sensitivities, or colic.
Using a lactose-free formula
If your doctor suggests that a lactose-free formula might be a good choice for your baby, there are many options. Most major formula manufacturers make special formulas for babies with all their needs. If you’re not sure which type of formula is best for your baby, ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.
Note that lactose free formula formulas such as L-Zero are expensive and may not be covered by utility programs. It can take a while before you see results after switching from regular formula to lactose-free formula – up to a week or two.