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Lactose Breath Hydrogen Test

What is a lactose breath hydrogen test?

Lactose breath hydrogen test is a test that finds out if your child can tolerate lactose (milk sugar).

What should we do before for the test?:

Your child should not take antibiotics for the 10 days before the test date. Your child should NOT eat the following foods for 24 hours before the test:

  • Grain products: Pasta, whole grain products (including cereals and melba toast) bran or other high fiber cereal
  • Fruits: Fruit juices, applesauce, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, canned fruit cocktail, grapes, honeydew melon, peaches, watermelon, raw and dried fruit like raisins and berries. Avoid any food that contains these fruits.
  • Vegetables: Vegetable juices, potatoes, alfalfa sprouts, beets, green/yellow beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, green/red peppers, squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, corn or products that contain corn
  • Nuts, Seeds, Beans: All nuts, seeds and beans as well as foods that may contain seeds
  • All Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter
  • Meat: (except those foods in the list below)

If you are not sure if a food item may affect the test, contact the physician or DO NOT give this item to your child. Your child should not eat or drink anything except water after 8:00 p.m. the night before the test. These are suggestions for your child’s final meal on the evening before the test:

  • Baked or broiled chicken or turkey (may season with salt and pepper only)
  • Baked or broiled fish (may season with salt and pepper only)
  • Plain steamed white rice
  • Eggs
  • Clear chicken or beef broth

On the morning of the test, that your child should rinse his mouth very well after brushing his teeth so that there is no toothpaste in his mouth. Your child should not smoke or be exposed to cigarette smoke for an hour before the test and during the test. 

Your child should not sleep an hour before the test or during the test. You child should not perform vigorous exercise an hour before or during the test. Please report to the Admissions Department 15-30 minutes before your child’s scheduled appointment time to register.

How the test is done:

This test will take about 3 hours to complete. Your child will be asked to blow air into a special balloon before the test is started. Your child will then drink a lactose drink which tastes like sweetened water. After your child finishes the lactose drink, he will blow air into a special balloon every 60 minutes for the next 3 hours. Your child will not be allowed to eat or smoke until the test is finished. Your child will be allowed to drink only water for the 3 hours during the test.

After the test:

The air samples will be analyzed the same day of the test and the results will be given to your child’s doctor. Please talk with your child’s doctor about any questions you may have about the test or the results.

We look forward to seeing you on _______________________ at ____________________________ a.m. If you have questions about these guidelines, you may contact the CHKD Clinical Laboratory at (757) 668-7300 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/2012