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Effects of age on lactose malabsorption in Oklahoma Native Americans as determined by breath H2 analysis

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Breath H2 excretion was used to determine lactose malabsorption in 30 healthy females and 30 healthy males between the ages of 3 and 64 yr who were at least 7/8 Native American. The test meal consisted of 5 ml reconstituted nonfat dry milk (0.25 g lactose) per kg of body weight. On the basis of breath H2 tests in 15 control subjects with normal oral lactose tolerance tests, a response factor of 20 ppm was selected as the upper limit for lactose absorbers. Of the 60 subjects in the study group, 36 (60%) were classified as lactose malabsorbers since they had a response factor of 20 ppm or greater of breath H2. Only 3 of 20 children (15%) who were under the age of 12 yr were nondigesters of the small lactose dose used in this study. Approximately 82 percent (82.5%) of subjects who were 13 yr and older were lactose malabsorbers. Adolescence appears to be the period in which malabsorption of lactose becomes evident in Native North Americans.

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Author information

Correspondence to Dr. D. Payne-Bose PhD.

Additional information

Supported by the Nutrition Foundation, Inc., New York, New York; Biomedical Sciences Support Grant (USPH) 5-S05-RR7077 to The Research Foundation, Oklahoma State University.

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Caskey, D.A., Payne-Bose, D., Welsh, J.D. et al. Effects of age on lactose malabsorption in Oklahoma Native Americans as determined by breath H2 analysis. Digest Dis Sci 22, 113–116 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01072952

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  • Control Subject
  • Lactose
  • Tolerance Test
  • Response Factor
  • Test Meal