Lactose malabsorption is not a cause of diarrhea during phototherapy

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1985 Apr;4(2):196-8. doi: 10.1097/00005176-198504000-00007.


Lactose malabsorption is not a cause of diarrhea during phototherapy. Jaundiced neonates under phototherapy develop diarrhea or loose stools during the treatment. These phenomena were attributed to an induced lactase deficiency caused by bilirubin breakdown products. We investigated lactose malabsorption in 59 neonates--29 normals and 30 jaundiced under phototherapy. Five-hour hydrogen breath tests were performed. Preprandial and postprandial (at 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300 min) expired air samples were analyzed for hydrogen. Ten controls and five jaundiced neonates had positive hydrogen breath tests. Eighteen controls and 16 neonates under phototherapy had preprandial hydrogen (concentrations above 5 ppm). In our hands, lactase deficiency and lactose malabsorption were not induced by phototherapy. Lactase deficiency is therefore not the cause of diarrhea associated with phototherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Lactose Intolerance / complications
  • Lactose Intolerance / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Phototherapy*


  • Hydrogen