Risk factors for lactose intolerance

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Unsplash.com

Risk factors for lactose intolerance include the following:

Age
Lactase production decreases with age, resulting in a greater chance of developing lactose intolerance as you grow older. Lactose intolerance usually appears in late childhood or early adulthood, and is uncommon in infants and young children.

Ethnicity
Lactose intolerance is more common in certain ethnic and cultural groups. It’s most common in African, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian populations.

Premature birth
Infants born prematurely (between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation) have low levels of lactase, because the small intestines don’t develop lactase-producing cells until the third trimester.

Diseases affecting the small intestine
Diseases of the small intestine, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, can cause lactose intolerance. These diseases cause inflammation and atrophy of the villi in the small intestines, thereby affecting the production of lactase.

Cancer treatments
Radiation therapy for cancer in the abdomen, or intestinal complications from chemotherapy, also affect the lining of the small intestine and may result in lactose intolerance.

Reviewed by Kim Hofmann, registered dietitian, BSc Medical (Honours) Nutrition and Dietetics, BSc (Honours) Psychology. August 2018.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
27% - 9952 votes
No
73% - 26301 votes
Vote