Thirty-eight infants and young children with gastroenteritis were investigated for lactose malabsorption. Each of them was given an oral lactose load of either 0.5 g/kg or 2 g/kg after which breath hydrogen excretion was measured, and each was observed to see if he had clinical symptoms of lactose intolerance. Only one patient, given 2 g/kg lactose, had clinical intolerance. His breath hydrogen excretion however was negative. Three of 18 patients given 0.5 g/kg lactose had positive breath hydrogen tests. None of these was symptomatic. Lactose intolerance in gastroenteritis was rare in our study, and the hydrogen breath test was not an appropriate technique for detecting it.
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