Egg allergy affects 1 in 50 children in the UK. However most children with an egg allergy will start to outgrow it by the time they go to school. Egg allergy can persist into adulthood.
What is an egg allergy?
Reactions to eggs are usually triggered by the protein part oif the egg (mainly the egg white). When some babies eat egg a reaction occurs triggering an immune response. These reactions can happen immediately after eating egg or can be delayed.
How common is an egg allergy?
Egg allergy prevalence is under 1% in children (Samady, 2020). The risk decreases as children get older however it can develop in adulthood (rare). It is recommended to introduce egg early into your child's weaning diet to reduce the risk of them developing an egg allergy.
Are there different types of egg allergy responses?
Yes there are two types of egg allergy; IgE mediated (immediate reactions) and non-IgE mediated (delayed reaction). The two types present with different symptoms however your little one could display reactions from both categories.
For more information on the differences between IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated allergies check out my blog on understanding the differences below.
For more information on the difference between IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated allergy responses check out my blog on understanding the differences below.
What are the signs and symptoms of an egg allergy?
Like all allergies, reactions to egg can be mild, moderate or severe. The amount of egg that is consumed and how well it was cooked usually affects how severe an allergic reaction will be. It also does not have to be eaten in order to cause an allergic reaction. In highly sensitive individuals coming into contact with egg shells or touching (usually raw) egg can cause allergic symptoms.
If your baby has an allergic reaction to egg you will often see them showing reluctance or refusing to eat egg. Most reactions are milk and occur soon after eating egg or foods containing egg.
A child with an immediate reaction may develop symptoms such as;
Becoming pale and floppy
Some children may also develop a rash or runny nose.
Over symptoms of an egg allergy can include; stomach ache/ cramps and loose stools. In some cases if egg comes into contact with the skin around the mouth it can cause what's known as a local reaction or contact erythema which is seen as redness, raised bumps or rash.
When should I contact my doctor?
If your child has experienced any of the above reactions and you think they might have an egg allergy you should contact your GP. Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention and an ambulance should be called if needed.
How is an egg allergy diagnosed?
Clinical history and physical examination are the most helpful ways to diagnose an egg allergy. It may be useful to keep a food and symptom diary. You can find one here that may be useful.
A healthcare professional will suggest avoiding egg from your little ones diet. Depending on their reactions you may be asked to undertake a baked egg challenge at home
If you are breastfeeding and think your little one is reacting to egg through your breastmilk, you should avoid egg in your own diet. This is because small amounts of egg protein is being passed through your milk during breastfeeding. If your little one has no symptoms while you are eating egg then you can continue to have this in your own diet.
Your GP or health visitor should organise a referral to an allergy specialist if your little one is experiencing moderate to severe symptoms.
I've seen allergy tests I can buy online. Can I use these instead?
There are lots of alternative tests out there marketed to diagnose allergies. Some of these include IgG, iridology, hair analysis, kinesiology or cytotoxic testing. Costs can vary and are available online and both from local practitioners.
However, these types of testing are not scientifically based. There is no evidence for their use and should not be used to diagnose an allergy or a intolerance.
The only evidence based methods for diagnosing allergies are the ones outlined in my previous blog.
Egg allergy and the diet
Most children with an egg allergy are able to tolerate well baked egg (for example egg that has been baked in a cake) and will only develop an allergic reaction if they eat raw egg (mayonnaise or tunnock teacakes) or loosely cooked egg (scrambled egg). This is because the protein structure in egg is changed by heat from cooking. Thus making it less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Whether or not your little one can have baked egg should be discussed with your dietitian or allergy specialist. This depends on your child's clinical history of previous reactions.
If your child has had a mild reaction to egg you may be asked to re-introduce egg into the diet at home. This usually starts with baked egg. Children who have had a severe reaction to egg in the past should not be given egg at home unless advised by a healthcare professional.
My baby reacts to baked egg - what happens now?
If your baby reacts to baked egg you will be advised to eliminate all egg containing products from their diet or your own. The next step depends on your little ones previous reactions to egg. This will either be a referral to an allergy specialist or an at home re-introduction.
You may require input from a paediatric dietitian in terms of alternatives to use and to oversee the reintroduction.
Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before you remove or reintroduce egg into your little ones diet. If you need any advise please get in touch.