Back to School Means Added Stress for Kids Who Can't Do Milk : Finding the "Hidden Lactose" in School Lunchrooms; Natural Probiotic Supplement Offers Moms an Answer to the School Lunch Dilemma

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It’s a dilemma facing parents of the estimated 15 million lactose intolerant school-aged children in the U.S. heading back to school this fall. As lunch moves from the home kitchen to the school cafeteria, so does control over what their children eat, posing serious health concerns for those who are lactose intolerant. Lactose-intolerant kids are left to make important lunch and snack choices on their own, with food containing “hidden lactose” complicating their decisions. Luckily, this school year, these decisions can become far easier for concerned parents thanks to natural, powerful over-the-counter probiotic supplements.

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Keeping enough lactase pills handy is hard enough, especially for children and teens, but since they often don't know some of the foods they're eating contain lactose, they may not even think about taking lactase.

"This can be a stressful time for parents," said Dr. Rachel Garber, a Cleveland pediatrician who treats lactose-intolerant children and teens at her practice. "They lose control over what their kids eat. They're not around to tell their child not to eat the pizza offered for lunch at school. It's also stressful for the kids, who often have to choose between fitting in with their peers and making an important healthy decision."

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up to 50 million Americans show signs of lactose intolerance as early as age 2. Lactose intolerance occurs across all ethnic populations, but members of certain ethnic groups are hit particularly hard, with more than 90 percent of Asians and up to 80 percent of African Americans and Hispanics reporting symptoms of lactose intolerance, according to NIH. Symptoms range from mild discomfort to severe nausea, gas and diarrhea and begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking food containing lactose, the main sugar found in milk.

Educating children about what foods to avoid is more difficult than simply keeping them away from milk and cheese, according to Dr. Garber, because of food containing "hidden lactose," comprised largely of non-dairy foods that can contain varying amounts of lactose. These foods can include:

breads processed breakfast cereals non-kosher lunch meats candy and other snacks salad dressings pancake, biscuit and cookie mixes Dr. Garber recommends parents teach their children to read food labels carefully, looking not only for milk and lactose, but also for words such as whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, and non-fat dry milk powder – all indications the food contains lactose.

But avoiding foods containing lactose, especially dairy products altogether, may pose a set of different health dangers.

A recent report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that fewer than 1 in 10 girls and just over 1 in 4 boys ages 9 to 13 get the recommended 1300 mg of calcium daily to help build their bones in this critical period. The institute, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, warns against steering lactose-intolerant children away from dairy, a leading source of calcium. Unfortunately, research shows that perceived milk intolerance is related to reduced bone mineral content in female adolescents. Researchers believe that lactose-containing medications may even be responsible for causing patient discomfort and reducing medication adherence.

According to Dr. Garber, a common solution is lactase enzyme pills taken with each meal. Lactase breaks down the lactose before it can cause problems. However, because the amount of lactase needed depends on how much lactose is consumed, Dr. Garber finds that many people consider them impractical. "Keeping enough lactase pills handy is hard enough, especially for children and teens, but since they often don't know some of the foods they're eating contain lactose, they may not even think about taking lactase." She's now suggesting people take the probiotic supplement, Digestive Advantage™ Lactose Intolerance Therapy, which children can take at home once each morning, as opposed to each time dairy is consumed. The ultimate goal is for lactose-intolerant children to enjoy milk products and get the calcium they need without discomfort – relieving much of the back-to-school stress for parents.

"These pills have dramatically improved our quality of life," Sandy Lanser of Milwaukee, Wisconsin said of her 15-year-old son, who has been taking Digestive Advantage™ Lactose Intolerance Therapy daily for over two years. "To be able to take one pill a day and then eat anything you want is the most wonderful thing for him. He can finally feel like a normal teenager."

Dr. Garber started recommending Digestive Advantage™ Lactose Intolerance Therapy to her patients after first using the product with her own children with positive results. The supplement is particularly helpful during the school year, as kids can take one pill daily, rather than worry about taking a pill before each meal or snack containing lactose.

Digestive Advantage™ Lactose Intolerance Therapy is available at over 40,000 retailers nationwide including Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, CVS/pharmacies, Rite-Aid, Albertsons, K-Mart, Kroger, Safeway, and online at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, and DoctorVicks.com. A chewable form is also available for children over 3 years of age.

About Ganeden Biotech

Founded in 1997, Ganeden Biotech Inc. is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the largest seller of over-the-counter probiotics in the U.S. It licenses its patented probiotic bacteria, Ganeden BC30 for use in commercial food and beverage applications as well as in medical foods and over-the-counter dietary supplements. GanedenBC30 was found to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by an independent panel assembled to assess its safety in use as a food ingredient. For more information, visit http://www.digestiveadvantage.com.

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Jennifer Tilliss
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