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Abdominal pain in dairy-fed children.

Abdominal Pain in Dairy-Fed Children

Children have complained about stomach aches for ages. Figuring out what is causing the problem is tricky, even for doctors. Abdominal pain is a constituent of so many diseases and situations from stress and fear to flu and urinary tract infection. During the early 1960s, studies were done on children who had frequent tummy aches, as often as once a month for several months in a row. Scientists believe that as many as 15 percent of children who see pediatricians suffer with pain in the abdomen this frequently. The syndrome has been called "recurrent abdominal pain" (RAP).

Some of the common factors seen in RAP are children who look pale, suffer from headaches, were usually very colicky babies, and complain of stomach pain often.

Studies of these children revealed that some actually suffered from peptic ulcers. A few had urinary tract infections. Follow-up showed that some of them grew up to develop inflammatory bowel disease. It is important to note that 40 percent of these children were found to be lactose intolerant. It is also interesting to realize that for so many children, the diagnosis of lactose intolerance was missed because they did not show the classic symptoms of distention and diarrhea. Pediatricians more often attributed the abdominal pain in these children to psychogenic factors, and unfortunately did not remove milk and other dairy products from their diet.

These studies should have a great bearing on the way children with abdominal pain are treated by their doctors and parents. Do not assume that pain in the absence of diarrhea or disease is always stress-related. Lactose intolerance may be the culprit.

You should ask your pediatrician to check with a breath hydrogen test that has been modified for children. Or, you may do a challenge test at home. Simply eliminate all dairy products and lactose sources from your child's diet for at least 4 weeks. Keep a daily diary listing the foods your child is eating and note tummy ache complaints. After two weeks you should know whether lactose intolerance could be a factor.

Sometimes it is frustrating to live with a child who complains about stomach aches often. Parents may feel that the child is using his pain to manipulate the family or avoid life situations. But, we shouldn't automatically assume that this is the case when children complain about abdominal pain. Be sure to check all possible physical causes. Then, if a psychological problem is diagnosed, don't stop there. Help your child with professional guidance.
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Title Annotation:lactose intolerance
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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