Thursday, May 10, 2007
Something every parent adopting an Asian child should know...
Lactose intolerance is a condition found in between 90 and 100% of ethnic Asians. This means anyone from Asia has a 9 out of 10 chance of having hypolactasis. Lactose intolerance (LI) is an inability to digest the lactose found in dairy products, often resulting in cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If your child throws up or has hives, this is not lactose intolerance but a milk allergy and should be treated accordingly.
LI is a common genetic disorder found in more than half the world's population. Usually those affected are Asian, African-American, South Asian, or Arab. Most Europeans, particularly those in, or descended from, those in Western and Northern Europe, such as Scandinavia, the British Isles, Poland, France, etc., are lactose persistant, or lactose tolerant. The further south in Europe you go, the more common LI becomes. Italians and Greeks have the highest rates of LI in Europe. Scandinavia has almost no occurance of it. This is largely because these areas have been drinking cow's milk so much longer than other areas have and, as such, have developed the proper enzymes to tolerate it. Humans naturally lose their ability to produce lactase after weaning, because, before people started drinking animal milk, humans didn't drink milk after weaning, so there was no reason to continue producing lactase. Because Europeans consistantly were drinking milk after weaning, so the enzyme continued to be produced. Other areas of the world haven't developed the ability to continue producing this enzyme because they're just now beginning to ingest dairy often.
So Asian people have a high rate of LI. So keep your eye out for it. I'm one of the unfortunate few people of European descent who can't digest any dairy. I can eat a bit of milk chocolate and I'll tolerate the cheese on pizza, that's about it. For anything more, I have to take an Enzyme Complex. However, my LI has made me realize one thing: Soy milk is good. :)