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What to do when baby can't drink milk.

Whenever babies didn't take kindly to cow's milk in formula, doctors should advise using a soybean-based formula. This eliminated the offending protein in milk, to which the infant was sensitive--but it didn't always work. Fussiness, gas, and diarrhea might continue until the child was old enough to be weaned.

Then there was the possibility that it was not the protein to which the child was sensitive, but the milk sugar, lactose. In that case, the switch unnecessarily deprived the baby of the more nutritious milk protein--and deprived the physician of accurately determining what milk component made the baby sensitive.

In lactose intolerance, the body has trouble producing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose into digestible forms. Lately, the media have given much attention to its occurrence among older children and adults.

Supplemental lactase tablets can now be used before ingesting dairy products; lactase liquid can treat milk before it is consumed. In addition, more dairy products treated with lactase are available.

The latest product is Lactofree, a milk-based, lactose-free infant formula, introduced in April by Mead Johnson. Lactofree is this country's first new category of infant formula in more than 25 years. It differs from the above-mentioned products in that lactose is removed from milk rather than simply broken down with lactase.

"If an infant is experiencing common feeding problems, such as fussiness, gas or diarrhea, a physician can now eliminate lactose from the diet without eliminating the preferred cow's milk protein," says Dr. George Baker, vice president and medical director of the Mead Johnson Nutritional Group.

"If the infant's condition improves, the physician can reasonably assume that the feeding problems were related to lactose. If the infant does not improve, the physician will know that the feeding problem is most likely caused by a sensitivity to cow's milk protein and can switch the infant to a formula specifically designed to manage a cow's milk protein sensitivity,"

Until recently, manufacturers couldn't remove lactose from milk products without eliminating milk protein. Technological advances now make it possible to separate them. Instead of lactose, Lactofree substitutes easy-to-digest glucose polymers (corn syrup solids), a carbohydrate used in most soy-based formulas.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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