Send to

Choose Destination
Obstet Gynecol. 1988 May;71(5):697-700.

Improved lactose digestion during pregnancy: a case of physiologic adaptation?

Author information

Prevention Research Program, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Maryland.


Loss of intestinal lactase activity among adults could theoretically limit milk consumption and hence dietary availability of calcium during pregnancy. The present study sought to define, using breath hydrogen (H2) production as an index of incomplete carbohydrate absorption, the prevalence during pregnancy of lactose maldigestion of 360 mL of milk (18 g of lactose), and to determine whether lactose digestion improved as pregnancy advanced. The prevalence of lactose maldigestion among 114 pregnant women tested before the 15th week of gestation was 54%. By term, 44% of those originally classified as maldigesters had become digesters. There was a significant reduction in the four-hour sum of the changes in breath H2 concentration from the period before 15 weeks (116.6 +/- 9.6 ppm) to the time after 36 weeks (54.4 +/- 7.3 ppm; P less than .01). This apparent adaptive improvement in intestinal handling of milk lactose during gestation has implications for calcium intake and absorption.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center