The inability and difficulty digesting cow’s milk. Lactose is the primary sugar source in milk. Lactose intolerance is not contagious or cancerous and occurs with varying severity in 75% of the black population, 90% of Asians or American Indians, and less than 20% of Caucasians of northwest European origin.
Causes of Lactose Intolerance
Cause of this condition is the deficiency or absence of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is necessary to digest all milk except mother’s milk. Without this enzyme the sugars in milk absorb fluid and cause diarrhea. Lactose intolerance usually develops in adulthood, but can occur in infants. After a severe bout of gastroenteritis that damages the intestinal lining, an infant can acquire temporary lactose intolerance.
Signs and Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Symptoms in children: foamy diarrhea with diaper rash, vomiting (sometimes), slow weight gain, growth and development. Symptoms in adults: rumbling abdominal sounds, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, gas, bloating, and nausea.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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