Children who don’t eat eggs before first birthday more likely to develop egg allergy

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Children who don’t eat an egg by the time of their first birthday are more likely to develop an allergy to the food as they get older.

Researchers with the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology say an intolerance to eggs is the second most common food allergy worldwide. Egg allergies often result in rashes, eczema, occasional vomiting, and even anaphylaxis. Being allergic to eggs can also lead to the development of asthma in older patients.

Study authors are now advising parents to start introducing their children to eggs at six months to ensure they do not develop an egg allergy. Health officials generally recommend babies eat small portions of egg when they start to have solid food. Specifically, experts recommend starting with pieces of the yolk from a hard-boiled egg.

An early start can prevent allergies later

In the study, 0.6 percent of children had an egg allergy at one year-old and 0.8 percent reported developing an egg allergy by their sixth birthday. Parents of these children with an egg allergy at ages one or six reported that their kids had less frequent egg consumption at five, six, seven, and 10 months of age.

“We examined infant feeding and food allergy data from birth to 6 years, collected by 2237 parent surveys in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II conducted by the CDC and US-FDA,” says lead author Dr. Guilia Martone in a media release.

“We found that children who hadn’t had egg introduced by 12 months were more likely to have egg allergy at 6 years.”

“Egg allergy is the second most common food allergy throughout the world,” adds Dr. Xiaozhong Wen. “Current evidence suggests that early introduction of egg during infancy, followed by consistent and frequent feedings, seems protective against development of egg allergy. We are still investigating optimal timing of infant egg introduction and frequency of feeding.”

Allergists and pediatricians recommend that parents also start introducing their children to peanut products around the time their child begins solid foods to prevent peanut allergies.

Researchers presented their findings at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual scientific meeting.

South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.