Here, Dr. Yoichi Sakakihara, Director, Child Research Net, and pediatrician, responds to questions and concerns regarding children's physical well-being and health.
My first child has an egg allergy. I would like to prevent my second child, now three months old, from becoming allergic to eggs, so should I avoid baby food that contains eggs? And how long should I delay introducing eggs into my child's diet?
Along with peanuts, eggs are known to cause atopic dermatitis and food allergies. And allergic diseases are known to have a family association, so a mother whose older child is allergic to eggs is understandably concerned.
One well-known way to treat food allergies is to eliminate the ingredient causing the allergy from one's diet, so not using eggs in baby food to prevent an allergy is a common method known to both doctors and the general population. During infancy, the intestines are still undeveloped, so they absorb allergens, resulting in an allergic reaction, but as the intestines develop, this became less frequent. Based on this logic, even now, for example, some doctors recommend not feeding eggs to a child until after the age of one.
However, there is no scientific evidence that delaying egg consumption will prevent or impede allergy to eggs. Research on allergies worldwide has shown the same result.
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy clearly stated in 2005 that although additional investigation is needed, there is no evidence that a diet that eliminates allergens (eggs in egg allergies, for example) after the age 4-6 months has a protective effect.
According to a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008, "There is also little evidence that delaying the timing of the introduction of complementary foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age prevents the occurrence of atopic disease."
What is even more surprising is that according to a leading journal on allergic diseases in the United States, a follow-up survey of 2,589 infants showed that among children who had cooked eggs introduced into their diet from 4 to 6 months of age, the likelihood of developing allergy to eggs was one third that of children who had them introduced into their diet at 10 to 12 months.
This information may surprise you, but I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce to you the presence of such data based on scientific evidence.
Note: The respondent of this Q&A series, Dr. Yoichi Sakakihara is a pediatrician practicing in Japan. Please remember to refer to the medical information or conditions of your own country, as the information or ideas contained in this article may not apply to your country.
Neither CRN nor Dr. Sakakihara shall be liable or responsible to any person or entity for any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly by the information or ideas contained, suggested, or referenced in these responses.