Should I Cut Back on Dairy During Pregnancy?

August 26, 2014

When it comes to our health and wellness, we’re all searching for answers. Sometimes that can be a complicated process as misinformation is everywhere. That’s where we want to help. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to read our “Lactose Intolerance Answers” series on Dairy Good.

Dr. Robert Murray, who has practiced clinical Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition for more than 20 years, answered our first question a few days ago: Is lactose intolerance genetic? The other day, he helped us better understand lactose intolerance and pregnancy, and today he answers another common question for expecting mothers:

Should I cut back how often I drink milk or eat cheese or yogurt while I’m pregnant to reduce the risk of my baby being lactose intolerant?

Dr. Robert Murray: Happily, no. Again, the inability to digest lactose is genetic. That’s because lactase, an enzyme in the intestine, is genetically programmed to disappear in some people. It works at full capacity in the first years of life then, in many, it slowly decreases. Nothing that mom does during pregnancy or that baby eats after birth will change the timing or the degree of the enzyme’s disappearance.

If you already tolerate some lactose in your diet, don’t stop eating those foods. Instead, very slowly increase the amount and variety of dairy foods to get to recommended amounts. For most that is three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day. So in the last trimester, when a pregnant woman needs some additional calories every day, dairy foods offer a convenient way to consume a high-quality eating plan. Convenient and natural, milk contains essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, high-quality protein and phosphorus, which will nourish your body while helping to support your rapidly growing baby. 


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