Carlos H. Lifschitz, Arturo Bautista, G. S. Gopalakrishna, Janice Stuff, Cutberto Garza

Absorption and Tolerance of Lactose in Infants Recovering from Severe Diarrhea

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Nineteen infants were challenged during their convalescence from severe diarrhea with a lactose‐containing meal. Twenty‐four hour intake, pre‐ and post‐challenge breath H2 levels, clinical responses, and growth were measured at approximately biweekly intervals for 3 months beginning 1 month after hospital discharge. Ten lactosetolerant infants were assigned randomly to receive one of two formulas similar in composition except for carbohydrates: lactose (Group L) (n = 6) and sucrose (Group S) (n = 4). Infants in Group L had greater intakes and growth rates during the initial 15 days of the study. No difference in weight for age z‐scores was detected between groups at the end of the observation period. Infants in Group L had higher baseline and peak breath H2 levels indicating greater colonic carbohydrate fermentation than infants in Group S; however, breath H2 levels were not predictive of tolerance to lactose‐containing meals. Carbohydrate absorption by infants in Group S appeared to exceed that of infants in Group L. Thus, colonic fermentation of malabsorbed carbohydrate may have prevented diarrhea and allowed acceptable rates of catch‐up growth.

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