Allergist and Immunologist Questions Lactose Intolerance

I am lactose intolerant, does it mean my child will also have this condition?

I have been lactose intolerant since birth. I am now 27 years old and I am expecting my first baby, however, I am very scared if my allergy will also pass onto my baby. Is lactose intolerance hereditary?

3 Answers

Hi,

Lactose intolerance is not a true allergy to cow milk protein, but it results from an inability to to digest lactose, the main sugar in cow milk. We see an increase in lactose intolerance in certain ethnic groups such as Asians, but the inheritance pattern is not well established. It is certainly possible for your child to develop lactose intolerance, but just because you are lactose intolerant does not guarantee that your child will have it. Fortunately, lactase, the enzyme that allows one to digest lactose (the sugar) is readily available and will allow you to digest lactase without too much difficulty and enjoy milk products.
Lactose intolerance can be inherited. Speak to the pediatrician you are planning to use about your concerns, and let him see if there is a genetic test available for this. The gene involved is MCM6 on chromosome 2 (2q21). While testing may be available, it may be expensive.
No, it does not mean that. Without knowing why type of lactose intolerance you have (there is a rare form which is hereditary), one cannot answer the question properly. It is more likely that you have the acquired form of lactose intolerance (lactase deficiency), which is more common and which is not hereditary.