How to Recognize and Treat Egg Allergy in Baby

EGG ALLERGY

Egg allergies, similar to other food allergies, occur when your baby’s immune system shows sensitivity toward egg proteins. The symptoms such as rashes and inflammation appear within a few minutes to even an hour after consuming egg. If you or your partner has an allergy to eggs, it is likely your baby has it too. Egg allergies can resolve themselves over time with your baby’s immune system desensitising as they grow older.

What is Egg Allergy?

An egg allergy is similar to other food allergies you might have heard of such as a mushroom or peanut allergy. Whenever people have allergic reactions toward some food, it indicates that their immune system is treating certain compounds present in the food as a threat and attacks it. Similarly, in an egg allergy, your baby’s underdeveloped immune system treats egg proteins as an invading pathogen and begins to attack it by releasing antibodies. These antibodies are called immunoglobulin E (IgE) and neutralize threats to defend the body. When the tissues in the body sense the presence of IgE, they release histamines which give rise to the familiar symptoms of an allergy such as a runny nose, inflammation and skin rashes. Babies can develop egg allergy to any form of it such as boiled, cook, raw or lightly-cooked. Allergies can also occur if the breastfeeding mother eats eggs.

Which Egg Proteins Cause the Allergy?

Eggs contain many different types of proteins that can cause an allergic reaction and egg white allergy in babies is more common than yolk allergies.

  1. Proteins in Egg White
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovotransferrin
  • Lysozyme
  1. Proteins in Egg Yolk
  • Phosvitin
  • Livetin
  • Apovitillin

What Factors Can Put Baby at the Risk of Developing An Allergy to Eggs?

Certain factors can increase the risk of your baby developing an allergy to eggs. They are as follows:

  1. General allergies

If your baby is sensitive to many other foods and shows signs of general allergic reactions, then there is a good chance they could be allergic to eggs as well. Babies that have allergies to nuts and grains have a higher risk of developing an allergy to eggs.

  1. Illness

As allergies are a response from the immune system, a recent episode of a serious illness can make the body highly sensitive. The immune system is on high alert for foreign substances and it might mistake egg proteins for a potential threat. This would prompt the immune system to attack it and trigger an allergy.

  1. Genetic predisposition

If one of both parents has an allergy to eggs, there’s a high chance the baby will have it too. If allergies run in the families, then chances the baby will get it is about 40%.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Egg Allergy in Baby?

  1. Rashes on the skin: An egg allergy rash in a baby is among the most noticeable symptoms to appear along with hives, swelling or flushing of the skin. It might further complicate and turn into eczema.
  1. Swelling of the mouth: This might be one of the first symptoms you would notice. The lips, tongue or the back of the throat might swell up and look red.

SIGNS OF ALLERGY

  1. Redness in the eyes: Their eyes would tear up with swelling and itching.
  1. Congestion of the nose: Running nose with a clear discharge accompanied by redness and itching.
  1. Swollen throat: The throat might be red and swollen which can cause difficulty in swallowing and breathing.
  1. Abdominal pain: Baby might experience abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhoea.
  1. Nausea and Vomiting: Baby egg allergy with vomiting is also seen along with discomfort while feeding.
  1. Difficulty breathing: Swelling in the throat or chest cavity makes it harder to breathe. It may also lead to asthma.
  1. Weak pulse: It can cause dizziness and fainting.
  1. Agitation: The baby might display a sudden bout of anxiety followed by fainting.
  1. Fever: A rise in body temperature can be seen along with other symptoms mentioned above.
  1. Anaphylactic shock: Anaphylaxis is a condition caused by an extreme allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. It is characterized by the following symptoms:
  • Muscle cramps leading to extreme abdominal pain.
  • Swelling and inflammation in the throat and surrounding muscles that constricts the air passage making it difficult to breathe.
  • Rapid heartbeat followed by a steep drop in blood pressure. It leads to loss of blood to the brain causing loss of consciousness.

How to Diagnose Egg Allergy in Infants?

Diagnosis starts with analyzing the baby’s diet and a history of allergies and other illnesses. It involves the following procedures:

  1. Diet modification

The doctor picks out all the suspected foods (allergen) that can cause an allergy from the baby’s diet and ask you to eliminate all of them. Then you’ll reintroduce only one allergen at a time back into the diet to look for allergic reactions.

  1. Skin prick test

The doctor places a small drop of an extract of the allergen and then gently pricks the skin to introduce a small amount of the allergen into the skin. If the skin shows a reddish raised spot in that region within 20 minutes, it confirms the allergy.

  1. Blood test

Tests such as RAST (radioallergosorbent test) and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) are performed to look for antibodies related to the egg allergy.

Are There Any Complications if Your Baby Shows Allergic Reaction to Eggs?

Certain complications can manifest themselves as egg and other allergies. Your baby may or may not have any such complications, but they may show the following symptoms:

  • Allergic reactions to fur, pollen, dust and dust mites.
  • Allergies towards other protein-rich foods such as milk, fish, peanuts and soy.
  • Long-term asthma or shortness of breath.
  • Development of eczema or atopic dermatitis as a severe form of skin hives.

How to Treat Egg Allergy in Babies?

The allergy treatment depends on how severe the reaction is. The course of treatment involves eliminating symptoms that can be life-threatening. There are two treatments for it as follows:

  1. Medication

Antihistamines are used to treat mild symptoms such as running nose, swelling and rashes. In the case of anaphylaxis, epinephrine, also called adrenaline is administered. Epinephrine is available as self-administered injections with an auto-injector that gives a shot of epinephrine when it is pressed against the skin with a certain force.

  1. Modification of diet

You may be asked to eliminate eggs from the diet of your baby and avoid foods that contain eggs. If you’re breastfeeding, you will also have to stop consuming eggs and egg-based foods.

Foods That Have Egg in Them

Along with avoiding eggs directly, you will also have to avoid foods that contain egg derivatives from the white or yolk.

Egg derivatives

  • Powdered egg
  • Globulin
  • Albumin
  • Lysozyme
  • Livetin
  • Ovoglobulin
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovotransferrin
  • Ovovitella
  • Simplesse
  • Silici Albuminate
  • Ovovitellin
  • Vitellin

AVOID BAKED PRODUCTS

Food products that may contain eggs:

  • Ice cream
  • Pudding and custards
  • Baked products such as cakes, pastries, bread, rusk etc
  • Mayo and salad dressings
  • Pasta
  • Dressing on fried meat

Healthy Substitutes for Eggs

Some healthy substitutes for eggs include,

  • Meat from poultry is a good replacement to egg once the baby is over 6 months old. It is an excellent source of dietary proteins and minerals to help the baby grow well. They can be fed in a pureed form initially and as solid nuggets once the baby is able to chew.
  • Soya milk works well as a substitute for those who are lactose intolerant and allergic to eggs.
  • Legumes such as daal are good vegetarian sources of protein.
  • Nuts and leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals.

Tips to Prevent Egg Allergies in Babies

You may want to keep in mind the following tips to avoid egg allergy in your baby.

  • Introduce eggs in their diet at an early stage in their life. It is known that introducing food items in baby’s early life lowers their chances of developing allergies to those foods. The process desensitizes the immune system toward the food item and over time it does not see those proteins as a threat.
  • Desensitizing baby to egg proteins with breastfeeding is a good way to build up tolerance in your baby. Since breast milk strengthens the baby’s immune system, the mothers can eat egg-based products on a trial and error basis to lower the chances of baby breastfeeding egg allergy.
  • Immunotherapy is a treatment where the baby is given incremental does of some egg over a period of time to help desensitize the immune system.

Common Vaccines That Could Expose Your Child to Egg Proteins

Some vaccinations use egg whites or yellow in their manufacturing processes. Although this is almost eliminated in modern vaccine production, some of these might still contain egg in them:

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine: Modern versions of this vaccine have minimal use of eggs. Therefore, if your baby has a mild reaction to eggs, they can safely have this vaccine.
  • Yellow fever and typhus vaccine has a significant amount of egg proteins in its formulation. It is not recommended for babies allergic to eggs.
  • The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe even for babies with egg allergies.

Egg allergies can be safely treated with medication and usually resolve on their own as the babies grow up.

Also Read: Egg for Babies