Tell me about egg allergies in babies and young children
February 4, 2022 8:54 AM   Subscribe

My 6 month old granddaughter just had her very first taste of egg - and immediately broke out in hives. Infant benadryl fixed it; allergist appointment has been made but meanwhile please tell me everything you know about egg allergies from anecdata to science.

I am a heavy egg eating old school pesce/vegetarian so I'm having trouble grokking the concept of an egg free childhood. My daughter, the baby's mother, has celiac but no other allergies. The whole family is pretty much allergy free, so this is a new one for us. Does this mean no cake? Nothing made with eggs? Or is it just eggs straight up? If it's relevant, her mother is breastfeeding and eats eggs and the baby has never had any reaction.

And, is it possible it will go away? Does this mean she is more likely to have other allergies? Is there a cause for this or is it just something that happens?

Thanks in advance for sharing!
posted by mygothlaundry to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My nephew had it at that age - my sister couldn't eat eggs while she was breastfeeding or he would get rashes and super upset stomach. He did grow out of it - by the time he was in kindergarten he could eat eggs in baked goods and now at 12 he can eat actual eggs. He did also develop a severe nut allergy.
posted by mcgsa at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2022

Best answer: Anecdata only: my toddler has one severe food allergy and a mild allergy to egg whites. His lips got puffy from eating fried eggs or fresh meringue, but no issues with cakes etc. We only found out because we got a blood test done to find out more info on the severe allergy.

The test showed a mild egg white allergy, so our pediatric allergist advised we should continue to expose him to eggs (and whites) where possible to see if he can tolerate it eventually. He told us egg allergies have a higher probability of children outgrowing them than some other food allergies.

Overall, it does kind of suck having to exclude some things from our household and his diet, but it forces you to get creative in fun ways. You’re old school vegetarian anyways so you will have experience in this. Aquafaba!

[Note: we have to totally exclude the stuff he is really allergic to, and I think we were only advised to do more egg because we already have an epipen for emergencies. YMMV, this is not medical advice.]
posted by Concordia at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Another anecdata, my son (now 9) was diagnosed with an egg allergy at six months. Eventually he was diagnosed with some other allergies as well (e.g., milk, tree nuts).

He was unable to eat any type of egg for the first few years. We did multiple food challenges under the supervision of his allergist, and eventually we did get the point where he could tolerate baked egg but not unbaked egg. Part of that process was being prescribed a certain muffin recipe and he had to eat muffins 3 times a week. Now he can eat eggs, but egg whites sometimes give him a stomach ache.

Our allergist mentioned that he was likely to grow out of his milk and egg allergies (which he did!) but not the tree nut allergy (which he has not outgrown).
posted by statsgirl at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of my kids had a severe egg allergy at infanthood, as well as some allergies to nuts and seeds. She also had bad eczema, so I was asked to avoid her allergens while breastfeeding. There's a concept called the allergic or atopic march, which describes the interplay and between food allergies, eczema and asthma. It describes my child's experience with these conditions very well.

Another interesting concept is the egg ladder, which introduces egg into a diet in an intentional way - starting with well-baked egg and then moving up to pancakes and waffles.

My child failed a baked egg food challenge at age 8 but was able to start introducing well-baked egg in small (like a bite) and then increasing (like a cupcake) amounts. She is 12 now and just got cleared to eat French toast, which was very exciting.

We were an egg-free house until it was time to introduce baked eggs into her diet. There are so many egg substitutes for baking and cooking; lots of options!
posted by poodelina at 9:37 AM on February 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My nephew (age 7) is fully tolerant of baked egg now, as other's have indicated. Before working him up the egg ladder, however we found that he was perfectly fine with duck eggs as substitutes.

other anecdote: we also found that a surprising number of people have no idea what mayonnaise is made of.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My kid (now 2 3/4) broke out in hives and vomited after his second scrambled egg in March of 2020 (11 months?) We got an allergist, who prescribed lots of baked egg dishes to build tolerance, and then after maybe a year, they tested him again and said he could eat regular old eggs. The other day he ate a cheese omelette, as he has done somewhat regularly for the past 6 months or so. He's totally cured.
posted by bowbeacon at 9:55 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My son was diagnosed with allergies to milk and egg (and sesame) at six months. He can eat it in baked goods like cake, cookies, muffins, etc. but not straight up. Milk and eggs give him terrible eczema and sesame results in anaphylaxis so we always have to carry an epi pen. He's tested annually and his levels are declining (he just turned 4) but he's nowhere close to being able to even attempt a food challenge in the lab. His allergist seems very confident he will grow out of both milk and egg sometime during elementary school but sesame is here to stay.

I never even think about his egg allergy, to be honest. Like I wish I could make scrambled eggs and French toast for the family but there's loads of other breakfast foods he loves, so it's fine. The dairy one is WAY more of a pain in the ass to accommodate IMO, even with the plethora of dairy-free options out there; I just want to be able to order the same damn pizza for the whole house and not have it be Such A Thing. You will see some scrambled egg substitutes in certain grocery stores and they are all expensive AF and taste completely abominable so save your money. :)
posted by anderjen at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My niece Clementine was allergic to milk as a baby. She outgrew it within a few years. When my friend's daughter proved to be allergic to eggs as a baby, I suggested to my friend that she might outgrow it as Clementine had, and she did by the time she was 3.5, first passing the "eggs baked in things" test, and then developing a tolerance for eggs by themselves.
posted by orange swan at 10:55 AM on February 4, 2022

Best answer: I am a middle-aged adult and am still allergic to eggs. I was diagnosed at a very early age, and my allergy was so extreme I couldn't get a measles vaccine until a pre-teen. I can't eat them straight up, or in custards, ice cream, homemade pasta or anything that has a lot of egg whites like angel food cake or meringue. I do ok with baked goods that have less than 3 eggs, so cake, as an eggwash on pastry or pie, maybe as a filling in something like manicotti. I cook with them occassionally but I've never eaten just an egg. The misery wouldn't be worth it.

My allergy didn't get better until I got my measles shot, and since then I've outgrown most of it. Even if this newfangled "egg-ladder" (that didn't exist when I was a baby) doesn't work it could be addressed with immunotherapy eventually. I'm also allergic to feathers and poultry, so that could be an issue but I don't think there's any studies proving that egg and feather allergies are related.

There's tons of ways to sub eggs in cooking. Vegan cooking methods are well advanced now so I usually just sub in a commercial egg substitute or cook without eggs. It's a bit hit or miss which substitute is best but it's doable if it has to become a regular thing.
posted by fiercekitten at 11:26 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Allergy to a specific egg protein. This protein can be damaged in cooking, freezing or pasteurization. Exposure to enough of the protein in raw eggs, like in fancy ice cream, royal frosting, thickener in pie filling or your underbaked cookies (for softness!?) results in severe reaction.

Be prepared to get an epi pen and may you never have to use it.
posted by zenon at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I personally had a severe egg allergy starting from very young and recently tested that I no longer have it. I didn't shed the issue early in life, as I had a reaction in my late teens. So sometime between college and now, it lifted.

As far as cooking goes, there's lots more substitutes and alternatives than there were in the '80s and '90s. Ener-g egg replacer for any baked goods, and JUST Egg for any cooked replacements (omelet, scramble, etc).

I often would have small bites of baked goods with egg in them, and only had issues if there was a heavy egg concentration (cake with one egg, small slice of cake fine, cake with three eggs, no). It's trial and error with sensitivities. You'll find the spot.

Also, if funding/insurance allows, get in with a good allergist and have them run blood tests after a few years and see if the allergy has disappeared as mine now has. Go ahead and get the full food panel run when you go. They don't test everything, but they get the big ones, and that will tell you if there's a need to look at others. Get an epi-pen prescribed (or an Auvi-Q, which is what I got recently) as well and know how to use it.

(sidenote to fiercekitten: I've still not had my MMR, thanks for mentioning that to remind me to talk to my doc)
posted by deezil at 12:15 PM on February 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We found out my daughter was allergic to eggs while she was still breastfeeding. She would have a reaction after my wife ate eggs. We took her in for an allergy test and in addition to eggs she was also allergic to milk and was told to avoid nuts. The allergist said that things could change as she aged and by the time she was 1.5-2 she was clear of all allergies except for mustard (mild allergy) and acorn.

I remember making a really sad cake for her first birthday but a lot of that was because we were visiting Japan at the time so it was harder to find appropriate ingredients. I could definitely make a good cake without eggs and dairy in my own kitchen and local grocery stores.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:31 PM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My kid had puffy face and all over rash (and was angry) the first time they ate egg at about 9 months. They had eaten it in baked goods without obvious issues but eating an egg white tipped them over. Then they stopped tolerating baked goods as well but the allergist recommended a reintroduction once they were eating mostly solid food, via the baked goods route. By about 6 they were fine with an egg and at 8 went through a phase of frying themselves two eggs for breakfast for a week straight. They grew out of the protein allergy as their digestive system matured.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:04 PM on February 4, 2022

Best answer: More anecdata for you. Young kiddo has outgrown an egg allergy that was previously verified by skin and blood tests. We did allergist-supervised egg challenges in-office that started with a muffin recipe containing baked egg and ended with direct egg consumption, followed by monitored reintroduction at home at each step.

We have had the all-clear from the doc for about a year, but kiddo has a mental block with knowingly consuming anything touching visible egg. And has a texture aversion to accidental consumption. Eggs still continue to be a journey for us but I’m happy to ditch the Epi Pen.
posted by sunrise kingdom at 6:07 PM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When my daughter first started eating food, eggs caused vomiting and a rash if eaten alone (scrambled, etc.) but were fine in baked goods. By the time she hit 2 1/2 she had grown out of it and now its eggs all the time like its going out of style. Her doctor said that many children have this kind of sensitivity when they’re little and then grow out of it so we just left it alone and tried again periodically. Good luck!
posted by jeszac at 7:02 AM on February 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My eldest has an egg allergy. Egg products, raw or baked, result in a mess. We've lived with it for nearly 18 years, and you get "used" to it, learning what the language regarding the equipment means, and how we purchase food. Read ingredient lists carefully, especially for items (like Chunky Soup) that don't have the Key Allergens at the bottom. Eating out is difficult, but has improved with age of the child. You will learn to bring treats to parties, because you can't rely that other parents inspect the ingredients as well as you do.

You will also learn hacks. A 12 oz soda with a box of cake mix makes a very tasty, no fuss cake! It's more crumbly than you're used to, but it's passable, especially for younger kids. And it has made my child assertive, when someone offers a treat they will ask to look at the packaging themselves, rather than trust a parent's "oh, it's fine!", because, in experience, it is not always fine.

We were told their allergy could go away, but it hasn't. So this is how it is. It's not so bad. They are a great child. And that far outweighs the issues with being egg free.
posted by China Grover at 11:51 AM on February 5, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I feel very reassured. I sent this thread to my daughter and she also feels reassured, so huge thanks for sharing your stories from her, her partner and small grandbaby laundry as well.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:57 PM on February 5, 2022

Best answer: Around 70 - 80% of children with an egg allergy can tolerate baked egg. Around 70 - 80% will outgrow the allergy within the first several years of life. It's unclear whether eating the baked egg helps to build tolerance, or whether people who can tolerate baked egg are just more likely to outgrow anyway. But in any case, it can be nice to have options.

Has baby had peanut yet? There's a correlation between egg allergy and peanut allergy. The LEAP (learning early about peanut) study found that it was especially beneficial to introduce peanut early to children with egg allergy and/or eczema, as it reduced the risk of allergy. If peanut is introduced successfully, it should be kept in the diet 2 - 3 times a week to try to maintain tolerance.

My toddler has a lot of allergies. It still sucks, but it does get easier.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:55 PM on February 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Had a fatal allergy to eggs as a baby. Not sure when it went away but it did. And, I still have allergies to other things (meaning anaphylaxis not sniffles), so I would imagine this one is easier to grow out of.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:57 PM on February 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lord Oscar was allergic to eggs as a child (as evidenced by his not being able to get a particular vaccine), but by the time I met him he could eat eggs fine in dishes (ice cream, baked goods, etc.). He still has a very, very strong aversion to anything that tastes/smells like egg, but it hadn't entirely occurred to him that he was safely eating eggs in other forms, so I would guess he grew out of it pretty young. (It occurs to me that I don't actually know if he in fact can safely eat unbaked egg, because it just doesn't happen.) He also had eczema when he was younger that went away later.
posted by LadyOscar at 8:26 PM on February 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

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