Lactase Enzyme Deficiency
Lactase enzyme deficiency occurs when a person or a child is not able to produce Lactase enzyme in his small intestine. This simply means lack of lactase enzyme. Lactase helps in breakdown of Lactose into smaller sugars i.e. Glucose and Galactose for further absorption. Lactose is present in Milk and other dairy products such as Cheese, Curd, Yogurt, Ice-creams.
Causes of Lactase Enzyme Deficiency?
There are four main causes of Lactase Enzyme deficiency:
- Primary Lactase Deficiency: It is the most common cause of lactase deficiency, also known as non-persistence of lactose. There is a gradual decline with increasing age in lactase enzyme activity. Enzyme function starts to decline in infancy and in puberty or early adulthood symptoms manifest. It is an inherited cause of the deficiency of lactase.
Secondary Lactase Deficiency:This type of Lactase deficiency occurs when there is an injury in intestinal mucosa due to an infection, inflammation or any other problem in digestive tract. Common causes include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Congenital Lactase Deficiency: This occurs due to Autosomal recession and is present by birth causing decrease or absence of lactase enzyme activity. This type of deficiency is rare.
- Developmental Lactase Deficiency: It is seen in premature infants born at a gestation of 28 to 37 weeks. The infant's intestine is underdeveloped and therefore unable to hydrolyze lactose. This condition improves with increasing age due to bowel maturation, resulting in sufficient production of lactase.