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January 1994

Cow's Milk Is a Good Food for Some and a Poor Choice for Others: Eliminating the Hyperbole

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(1):104-107. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170010106026

The Editorial by Finberg1 in the December 1992 issue of AJDC contains inaccuracies. Finberg's representation that "a proportion of the population, perhaps 10% in the United States, does develop lactose intolerance because of diminishing intestinal lactase with aging" seriously underestimates the extent of the problem (Table 12-17). Scrimshaw and Murray,18 reporting on the prevalence of lactose intolerance from 97 scientific reports over a 20-year period, concluded that "in minority groups in North America and Europe lactose maldigesters are in the majority." They also reported that the percentage of adult African and black maldigesters in the United States ranges from 65% to 100%. Paige17 reported that the age-specific prevalence of lactose intolerance increases with age in black children in the United States irrespective of socioeconomic status. At 6 and 12 years of age, 33% and 74%, respectively, were identified as lactose malabsorbers. Although the data may be