Micro-Premie Josie Duggar Finally Goes Home

Josie Duggar, youngest of the “19 Kids and Counting” Duggar family has been released from the hospital. Originally born at 25 weeks gestation and weighing 1 pound 6 ounces, Josie has had a rocky course. She suffered a perforation of her bowel at 8 days of age, and although she was released from the hospital in early April, she had to be readmitted a few days later when she had problems with slowed heart rate and breathing (not an uncommon problem in premature babies.) Since her readmission, doctors have been trying to get to the bottom of her digestion problems, and according to People magazine, they have finally come up with an answer:

“Her digestive issues have been linked to lactose intolerance,” says her physician Dr. Robert Arrington, co-director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “We are happy that she is doing so well and fully expect her to continue to thrive. Today, as she’s leaving, she looks like a full-term baby.”

Josie has grown to 7 lbs. 6 oz.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability or insufficient ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells lining the small intestine. Lactase breaks down lactose into two simpler forms of sugar called glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. People who make no lactase at all are called lactose deficient, while people who make lactase in reduced amounts are called lactose intolerant. People who are lactose intolerant can tolerate some lactose containing food in their diet without symptoms.

Who is at risk for lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that is more likely to occur in adulthood, with a higher incidence in older adults. Some ethnic and racial populations are more affected than others, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans. The condition is least common among Americans of northern European descent.

Infants born prematurely are more likely to have lactase deficiency because an infant’s lactase levels do not increase until the third trimester of pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

People with lactose intolerance may feel uncomfortable 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk and milk products. Symptoms range from mild to severe, based on the amount of lactose consumed and the amount a person can tolerate.

Common symptoms include

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

What can I do about lactose intolerance?

You will need to avoid or eat less of foods that have lactose in them.

Lactose is in milk and all foods made with milk. It is also added to some boxed, canned, frozen, and other prepared foods, such as

  • breads
  • cereals
  • lunch meats
  • salad dressings
  • mixes for cakes, cookies, pancakes, and biscuits
  • frozen dinners

Learn to read food labels carefully. Look for milk and lactose in the list of ingredients. Also look for words like whey, curds, milk by-products, dried milk, milk solids, and powdered milk. If any of these words are listed on a label, the product contains lactose.

For more information:

Lactose Intolerance
Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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