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Korean J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002 Mar;5(1):62-67. Korean.
Published online Mar 31, 2002.
Copyright © 2002 The Korean Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Prevalence of Lactose Malabsorption in Children by Breath Hydrogen Test
Ju Young Chung, Sun Hwan Bae, Kwang Hae Choi, Jae Sung Ko and Jeong Kee Seo
Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Children's Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


The aim of this study was to investigate the age of onset and the prevalence of lactose malabsorption in early childhood in Korea.


We conducted a study of lactose malabsorption by breath hydrogen test in healthy children aged between 25~96 months old. Standard lactose loading (2 g lactose/kg, maximum 40g) test was done in 129 children and cow's milk (10 mL/kg) loading in 126 children followed by breath sampling of 60 and 120 minutes after the loading. An increase above baseline of 20 ppm or more was used as a criteria for positive responses.


The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was 7% in 25~36 months old, 19% in 37~48 months old, 35% in 49~60 months old, 55% in 61~72 months old, 82% in 72~84 months old, 80% in 85~96 months old children. Only 1% of the children showed positive result in breath hydrogen test after the cow's milk challenge.


The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was increased between 37 months and 60 months of age, reached to adult level of prevalence after 72 months of age. When physiological dose of lactose was used as the challenge, the number of lactose malabsorbers become clinically insignificant.

Keywords: Lactose malabsorption; Breath hydrogen test; Children