What is it?
Egg allergy is caused when the body mistakes the proteins found in egg as harmful, and tries to attack them, causing allergic symptoms. It can sometimes be to all forms of egg, or just ones which aren’t thoroughly cooked. It can also be sometimes just to the egg white, the yolk, or both.
Who gets it?
Egg allergy is more common in infants and children than in adults. Around 1 in 100 infants and children are thought to have an egg allergy, and whilst 80% will ‘grow out’ of this by the time they are five years old, 20% will continue to be allergic to egg as an adult.
Why does it happen?
Nobody really knows why an egg allergy affects a certain person, but allergies do have a genetic link meaning that if others in your family have an allergy then it is more likely that you or your child will have an allergy.
What should you do if you think your child has an egg allergy?
If you think that your child might have an allergy to egg then it is important not to give them egg again until you have spoken to a GP. Your GP may want to do several things; they may do a skin prick test (SPT) or a blood test (called a RAST). Sometimes they might ask you to avoid all egg from their diet to see if symptoms go away, and then add it back in (under medical supervision) to see if symptoms return.
Is there a treatment?
The only treatment is to avoid egg. Some people need to avoid all egg whilst others may be able to eat egg which is thoroughly cooked, this depends on how severe the allergy is. As many children with an egg allergy will ‘grow out’ of it, your GP may suggest trying egg with your child (under medical supervision) after a period of time not eating it but you should wait until they suggest this.
What do you need to avoid?
As well as avoiding eggs on their own, eggs can also be found in many different products such as: cakes, meringues, biscuits, pastries, pasta, batter or breadcrumbs, ice-creams, cheeses, Quorn, chocolates and some processed meat products.
By law egg must be listed on any product with an ingredients list, but beware of foods which are sold loose without packaging. When checking labels, look for the following words:
- Egg powder
- Dried/frozen/pasteurised egg
- Egg proteins (albumin, ovalbumin, globulin, ovoglobulin, livetin, ovomucin, vitellin, ovovitellin)
- Egg white/yolk
- Egg lecithin (E322)
Most big supermarkets can provide lists of egg-free foods on request, however this should not be a substitute for label-checking. All foods suitable for vegans will also be egg-free. Egg-replacers can also be bought which can be used in home-cooking, either from large supermarkets or specialist health food shops.
In a normal healthy infant and toddler, avoiding eggs due to an allergy should not cause any problems nutritionally as protein, the main nutrient from eggs, can be found in other foods such as meat, cheese, beans, milk etc. If other main sources of protein are also not eaten (such as meat or milk) then you may want to see a dietitian to be sure your child will be getting all the right things they need in order to grow.
All HiPP packaging contains an ingredients list; they also have a 'CONTAINS' box (found in yellow underneath the ingredients list). If a HiPP product contains egg this will be mentioned in the ingredients listing and 'CONTAINS' box.
Have a look at the HiPP Organic products free from egg.