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Newborn and Infant Care

Allergy to egg

12/28/2005

Question:

I have a daughter 8-1/2 month old. I gave her egg white today morning for the first time and as soon as she had it, she developed redness and hives all around her mouth where the egg came into contact, sneezed a couple of time and threw up the whole food after an hour. she has also developed diarrhea. i understand she has allergy to egg white. does this mean she is not supposed to have egg white all her life? can i give her egg yolk after an year? me and my husband do not have any food allergies at all in our families.

Answer:

Eggs are among the most common food allergens in young children. Others include milk, peanut products such as peanut butter, citrus fruits and citrus fruit juices. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against exposure of children under 12 months of age to any of these foods precisely because of the high risk of allergic reactions developing in young children. 

You have clearly described a true food allergy reaction In your daughter. A true food allergy results in allergic symptoms throughout the body: in the skin (the hives and redness), GI tract (diarrhea and vomiting), and the respiratory tract (sneezing). You are so fortunate that her breathing was not compromised with airway swelling! However, now that her body is sensitized to egg protein, subsequent reactions may well become progressively more serious and include life threatening anaphylactic (allergic) shock. It is very important to notify your child's doctor of this allergic reaction. He or she will likely prescribe an epi-pen (a small syringe filled with epinephrine) to be used if your daughter has a subsequent serious reaction that makes it hard for her to breathe. Your daughter also should not receive the flu vacine. The MMR vaccine is safe for most individuals with egg allergy. Everyone who cares for her at home and away should also be warned of her egg allergy and additional epi-pens should be available for her at day care or at a babysitter's home. You may also consider obtaiing an allergy bracelet for her to wear. Most children outgrow their egg allergy by five years of age. In the meantime, it is very important to eliminate egg products from her diet. These ingredients are definitely not alright: eggs: dried, powdered, solids, whites, yolk eggnog lysozyme (often used in products made in Europe) mayonnaise meringue surimi This will prove challenging since they are in many baked goods and grain products such as pasta. These foods may contain egg protein: All baked goods with a glossy appearance such as bagels (the gloss comes from eggs) Natural and artificial flavoring Lecithin Macaroni, pasta Marzipan Marshmallows Nougat. Other egg derived products to avoid include: Simplesse Albumin or albumen Globulin Livetin Ovalbumin Ovoglobulin Ovomucin Ovomucoid Ovovitella Ovovitellin Silici albuminate Vitellin You can see from these lists that a very careful watch is necessary to avoid accidental exposure to egg protein for your daughter. The good news is that it is likely her egg allergy will disappear by age 5.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University