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Q And A Clearinghouse
1st Quarter, 2000

Updated April 30, 2000

This page answers the questions that arrived in the first quarter of 2000.

Send your questions to me, Steve Carper, at SteveCarper@CS.com.

Remember, I personally answer all questions that you send me, no matter what. The ones that are of sufficiently general interest get posted here, where I hope they can do the most good.

If you don't spot your question here, be sure to check my Q and A Quick Finder Index.


Q. When I switched from breastmilk (and occasional formula) to cows' milk, diarrhea burned my daughter's bottom like a chemical burn. What do you know about acidic stools?

    Acidic stools are a sign that carbohydrates are not being properly digested and so are coming out in the stool. They may very well be a sign of LI.

    But the diarrhea may be a reaction to the milk protein, which often first manifests when mothers switch to cow's milk. Check with your doctor about doing an allergy test.

    FYI, your baby is old enough to use lactase. If swallowing is a problem, a couple of brands make gelcaps that are easier to swallow. Otherwise find a chewable tablet and crush it up and slip into food.

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Q. a. If you are eating at a buffet, for instance, how long can you eat on (be protected by) any lactase you take?

b. I'm finding myself in social situations, such as a wedding reception, where I take the lactase at the beginning of the meal and the cake (or coffee with cream, or whatever) is served several hours later. Do I need to take another dose then?

    If you take enough lactase at the beginning of a meal, it should protect you for the entire meal. However, if it's a really long drawn-out affair, several hours long like a banquet, and you save dessert until the end, you might want to take more then. But one dosage should be enough for any ordinary meal.
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Q. My 11-year-old daughter has just been diagnosed with LI. Can she eat m and m peanut candy? I am so confused about "milk chocolate" and whether this is possible. What candy is okay for her?


Q. Are there any simple ways to test for presence of lactose in processed foods?

    The short answer is no. There are no test strips or anything like them on the market. I'm don't know how difficult it would be to distinguish lactose from other sugars, but I'm guessing fairly hard.
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Q. I have discovered that I get extremely sick when I have butter or very fatty cheeses like camembert. Then within one hour I have vomiting reactions, diarrhea and lots of pain. My question is, have you heard about allergy/intolerance to fat in milk products?

    Almost nothing is known about milk fat intolerance. I remember one study saying that perhaps 10% of people who reacted to milk were reacting to the fat, but another study said there was no such thing.

    One suggestions: Find a margarine that is completely dairy-free (see my Margarines page for brand names) and see whether that triggers a reaction. That will tell you at least something.

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Q. Is lactase in humans analogous to rennet in calves?

    No. Lactase is produced by virtually all mammals for the same sole purpose: to digest lactose from milk. (A few animals, such as the pinnipedia - seals, sea lions and suchlike - do not have lactose in their milks and so do not need lactase.) Lactase is produced in the villi of the small intestine (rather than in the stomach) and works there on lactose molecules that pass by. It is analogous to sucrase and the other enzymes that digest sugars.
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