ZocdocAnswersCan dairy cause constipation?

Question

Can dairy cause constipation?

I'm a mom of three and I'm worried about my toddler. She has always had trouble with her bowel movements, and it seems especially bad recently ? especially when we eat a dairy-based meal. Is it possible that this is a bad reaction to dairy, and if so does that mean she's lactose intolerant?

Answer

There are many causes for constipation in small children. Definitive diagnosis and treatment of this problem will require evaluation by your pediatrician, family doctor, or a specialist such as a pediatric gastroenterologist. Dairy and lactose-containing products can be associated with constipation in at least two ways. First, some children suffer from a condition call cow milk-protein allergy. Although this condition more commonly manifests as abdominal pain, blood in the bowel movements, and skin rashes it can also manifest as constipation. More commonly, lactose intolerance can very commonly manifest as constipation. There are many other causes of constipation that are unrelated to dairy. These include Hirschprung's disease, which is a condition in which nerve connections to the colon and rectum are abnormal; problems with the thyroid gland; inflammatory bowel disease; and celiac disease. There are also many behavioral causes of constipation in children, including withholding or fear of having a bowel movement, decreased fluid intake leading to dehydration, and a preference for soft processed foods that have a low fiber content. As always, diagnosis of your child's problem will require an examination by a personal physician. Scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician or family doctor is strongly recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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