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Lactose Malabsorption, Calcium Intake, and Bone Mass in Children and Adolescents

Medeiros, Lilian C. da Silva*; Lederman, Henrique M.; de Morais, Mauro B.

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: February 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 2 - p 204–209
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182380604
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objectives: The objective of the present study was to evaluate the calcium intake and bone mass in children and early adolescents in accordance with their absorption capacity to lactose.

Patients and Methods: A transversal study was conducted on a sample composed of 76 individuals. Lactose malabsorption status was determined with hydrogen breath test. The hydrogen breath test was applied using 2 g of lactose per kilogram of weight up to a maximum of 50 g. A hydrogen increment ≥20 ppm in relation to fasting was used to characterize lactose malabsorption. Two 24-hour recalls were applied for the evaluation of food consumption. Bone mineral content and bone mineral density were evaluated in the lumbar spine by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

Results: The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was 61.8%. The participants were divided into 2 groups: lactose malabsorbers (n = 47) and lactose absorbers (n = 29). There was no statistically significant difference (P > 0.05) between the groups with respect to the intake of total calcium, milk calcium, milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and calcium density of the diet. Additionally, there was no difference with respect to the bone mineral content and the bone mineral density of the lumbar spine. Independent from lactose absorption capacity, it was observed that the majority of the children and early adolescents showed calcium intake lower than the recommended value.

Conclusions: There was no relation among lactose malabsorption and bone densities, bone mineral content, or calcium intake within the present study.

*Department of Nutrition

Division of Diagnostic Imaging in Pediatrics

Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Mauro Batista de Morais, PhD, MD, Rua Pedro de Toledo 441 CEP 04039-031 São Paulo–SP, Brazil (e-mail:

Received 9 November, 2010

Accepted 12 September, 2011

The present study received funding from National Scientific and Technological Development Board (CNPQ), Brazil.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2012 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN