Digestive System Disorders

Expert reports about Digestive System Disorders


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE LACTOSE INTOLERANCE DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

                                                                                                                                                

What is lactose intolerance in pregnancy?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar), due to a deficiency in the production of lactase, an enzyme that breaks lactose into two smaller pieces. The deficiency can be total, meaning that you do not make any of the enzyme at all, or it can be that you do not make enough to keep up with the amount of dairy products that you consume. Because there is variation in the amount of lactase that people produce, some people with lactose intolerance can consume certain dairy products, such as yogurt, in which bacteria have already modified some of the lactose, but cannot tolerate pure milk, or not a lot of it. If you do not break down the lactose with your own enzyme, then bacteria that inhabit your gastrointestinal tract break it down in a way that produces hydrogen gas, leading to gastrointestinal disturbances that include flatulence and may also include diarrhea, depending on the amount of lactose versus the amount of enzyme that you can produce. Thus, lactose intolerance is one pathway leading to what’s called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The condition can be particularly troubling during pregnancy, because growing pressure inside your abdomen from the growing womb, puts pressure on your intestines, which can cause gas to get trapped.


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