What causes lactose intolerance?

In babies, lactose intolerance is generally caused by either:

  • A congenital condition, where babies are born without (or with very low amounts of) lactase
  • Premature birth, where the small intestine is not developed enough to produce lactase yet
  • A temporary intolerance caused by a stomach bug or infection, undiagnosed coeliac disease or antibiotics

Lactose intolerance can also develop in older children whose diets are low in lactose. This is often the case in cultural groups where dairy isn’t part of the everyday diet.

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