Effects of race, maternal lactose intolerance and breastfeeding on the incidence of lactose intolerance in young children
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This study was conducted to determine if (1) racial differences between black and white races, (2) maternal lactose intolerance and/or (3) breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding have an effect on the incidence of lactose intolerance in the young child. Oral lactose was given via a lemon-flavored beverage to 36 healthy black and 20 healthy white mothers and their children. All children were between the ages of 2 and 5 years. The amount of lactose given included 25 g for the mothers, 2 g/kg for two year olds and 1.7 g/kg for 3 to 5 year olds. The 50th percentile weight of each child's age was determined from the Boston-Anthropometric Data and was used to calculate the amount of lactose for each child. Clinical symptoms that occurred within 24 hours of lactose ingestion were recorded on a questionnaire by the mothers and mailed to the experimenter. It was found that the clinical symptoms of lactose intolerance in young children were dependent on the race and the lactose intolerance in the mother. Over 50 percent of the black subjects as compared to 15 percent of the white subjects and 44 percent of the black children as compared to 14 percent of the white children^reported clinical symptoms of lactose intolerance. It was found that milk drinking habits of black and white subjects influence lactose intolerance. Fewer black subjects consumed milk and milk products on a regular basis and 62 percent of the mothers and 44 percent of the children reported lactose intolerance. Comparatively, white subjects consumed milk and milk products regularly and only 14 percent of both white mothers and white children were lactose intolerant. Six black mother-child pairs were lactose intolerant as compared to no white mother-child pairs. These findings indicate that lactose intolerance is of racial and hereditary etiology. It was found that those children who had been breastfed had greater incidence of lactose intolerance as compared to bottlefed children. Fifty percent of the breastfed children were lactose intolerant as compared to 18 percent of the bottlefed children. These results indicate that breastfeeding does not prevent lactose intolerance.