Allergy

09 November 2012

An egg a day to keep allergies away

Avoiding sweet treats like pumpkin bread and cookies might not be necessary for children with egg allergies. New studies found 56% of allergic children can tolerate baked egg.

 Avoiding sweet treats like pumpkin bread and cookies this holiday season might not be necessary for children with egg allergies. New studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting found 56% of allergic children can tolerate baked hen's egg, while 55% outgrow their egg allergy entirely.

“More than half of egg allergic children can tolerate hen's eggs when they are baked at 350 degrees in products such as cakes and breads,” said allergist Rushani Saltzman, MD, lead study author and ACAAI member. “Dietary introduction of baked egg by an allergist can broaden a child's diet, improve quality of life and likely accelerate the development of an egg tolerance.”

The median dose tolerated was 2⁄5 baked hen's egg. The products tested were all baked at 350 degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes. In a separate study also presented at the meeting, Ruchi Gupta, MD, lead study author and paediatrician, found that out of the eight common food allergens, children most commonly outgrew egg allergy.

How the study was done

“Food tolerance was observed in one in four children, with 55% outgrowing their egg allergy by age seven,” said Dr Gupta. “Developing an egg tolerance is the most common for children, followed by milk. A small proportion outgrew shellfish and tree nut allergies.”

If children have shown a severe reaction to eggs in the past they are less likely to outgrow the allergy, according to researchers. Severe symptoms include rapid swelling of the skin and tissue, difficulty breathing and life-threatening anaphylaxis.

“While these studies show many positive findings for children with egg allergy, parents must practice caution,” said allergist Richard Weber, MD, ACAAI president-elect. “Introducing an allergen back into a child's diet can have severe consequences, and only should be done under the care of a board-certified allergist.”

(EurekAlert, November 2012)

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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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