When is it safe to feed your baby eggs?
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended a lengthy delay in introducing potentially allergenic foods, such as eggs, to babies. However, new research suggests that delaying the introduction to foods may actually increase the potential for developing an allergy to that food.
The AAP and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology no longer recommend delaying the introduction of eggs to babies. They recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for 4 to 6 months, and that foods be introduced gradually after that time. Infants at high risk for developing food allergies who cannot be breastfed should be fed a hypoallergenic formula.
A study of 2,500 Australian infants found that the delayed introduction to the egg increased the rate of egg allergy. Compared with babies who were initially given eggs between 4 and 6 months, babies who were initially given eggs at 10-12 months were 1.6 times more likely to have an egg allergy. Babies originally gave an egg after the age of 12 months was 3.4 times more likely to develop an egg allergy. This was true even for babies who were not considered high risk for developing food allergies. (High-risk babies include those with a history of eczema or with food-allergic siblings.)
The same study found that babies who were chiefly given cooked eggs (such as scrambled or boiled eggs) rather than eggs baked in a baked good had slightly lower rates of egg allergies. The lowest level of egg allergy was among babies who were given cooked eggs between 4 and 6 months of age.
Another study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that some children with egg allergies are able to tolerate “extensively heated” eggs — eggs that have been baked into waffles or muffins. Children who were able to eat baked eggs in the doctor’s office, and who therefore did so over a period of time, were more likely to develop a tolerance for eggs in other forms.