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Iran J Pediatr. 2012 Mar;22(1):82-6.

Lactose-free compared with lactose-containing formula in dietary management of acute childhood diarrhea.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.



Few reports are available on some benefits, such as shortened duration of diarrhea and better weight gain, for lactose-free over lactose-containing formula in acute childhood diarrhea. We evaluated the effects of lactose-free formula in dietary management of acute diarrhea in formula-fed children.


This controlled-clinical trial was conducted on formula-fed children, aged 1 to 24 months, referring with acute non-bloody diarrhea (≤2 weeks). Those who had major systemic illness, severe malnutrition, severe dehydration, severe vomiting, or history of antibiotic therapy were not included. Children were allocated to receive lactose-free formula (intervention, n=37) or lactose-containing formula (control, n=34). Time to diarrhea relief and weight change were compared between the two groups after one week.


During the study, 32 male and 39 female children (7.1±3.7 months) were included. Those who received lactose-free formula had a significantly shorter time to diarrhea relief compared with the controls (1.7±0.7 vs. 2.6±0.7 days, P<0.001). Weight significantly increased in both groups, but there was no difference between the two groups in weight change (37±100 vs. 38±77 gr, P=0.673). Multivariate analysis showed that receiving lactose-free formula significantly predicted time to diarrhea relief (95% CI: 1.5 to 3.9, P<0.001) controlling for baseline characteristics.


Early administration of lactose-free formula for formula-fed children presenting with acute diarrhea can result in a more rapid relief of acute diarrhea and thus perhaps less mortality and morbidity. Trials with longer follow-ups are warranted to better evaluate long-term results such as weight change and feeding problems in this regard.


Acute Diarrhea; Children; Lactose-Free Formula; Nutritional Management

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