Is your infant at risk for allergies? You should consider introducing eggs at the age of 4 months in order to reduce the risk of allergy at 12 months by half, according to a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind trial from Australia.
Introducing egg early “is certainly safe, and it may promote tolerance,” said senior investigator Dr. Dianne Campbell, professor and chair of pediatric allergy and clinical immunology at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, which is affiliated with the University of Sydney.
The study was carried out with four-month-old children, who were randomized to 350 mg of pasteurized raw whole egg powder or rice powder (as the control), sprinkled once daily on their weaning food until they were 8 months old. At that point, parents in both groups were encouraged to add eggs to the children’s diets. Each child’s parents had a history of atopic disease, including asthma, eczema, hay fever, or food allergy. Despite this fact, however, all of the children had negative skin prick tests at the baseline.
At 12 months, the skin prick tests were positive for whole egg in 20% of the rice group, but only 11% of the egg group. However, 10% of the children originally in the egg group broke out in hives after their first few doses and were withdrawn, so it is important to note that this kind of intervention may not be for everybody.
Overall, though, this early introduction was safe as there was no anaphylaxis, cardiovascular or respiratory complications. The rates of eczema and peanut allergy were similar at 12 months between the groups, which means that the early introduction did not increase the risk of atopy. Slowly, it’s becoming clear that delaying the introduction of at least some allergenic foods – a common practice for years – doesn’t prevent allergies and may, in fact, promote them.