Around the age of four to six months, infants and parents begin to experiment with solid foods. This is an exciting step in development but can also be alarming when babies have reactions to certain foods such as eggs.
Egg allergies, although fairly common, can range from mild to severe and should never be left undiagnosed. While most egg allergies can be outgrown before adolescence, some can worsen over time or even from one reaction to the next. No baby is exactly alike, just like allergies are not the same in any given body, or on any given day, for that matter.
Only a qualified team of a pediatrician and pediatric allergists should determine the severity of an egg allergy and a treatment plan for your baby.
How to Treat an Allergic Reaction
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can occur within minutes or may not flare until after a few hours. Symptoms include one or more of the following: skin hives or rash, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, vomiting, or shortness of breath. In rare, but potentially fatal instances, anaphylaxis can occur.
Most symptoms are relieved by oral antihistamines such as Benadryl, while anaphylaxis should immediately be treated with epinephrine and a trip to the emergency room. Symptoms of anaphylaxis are vomiting, shock, shortness of breath, and swelling of airways.
In these rare but serious cases, an EpiPen might be prescribed for future emergencies if the need arises. In any instance of a reaction, it is necessary to consult a pediatric immunologist/allergist.
Seeking Treatment and Prevention Therapy
After treating your baby, you should call your pediatrician immediately. If at all possible, have your child seen while the symptoms are still present.
Your pediatrician can likely recommend a qualified pediatric immunologist in your area who can provide testing to diagnose and determine a treatment plan for your family.
Testing can be done in several different ways. The most common method is to place a small sample of the egg protein on the back of your baby and lightly “scratch” the skin. (This is a very gentle and painless practice). If the skin turns red or swells slightly, it is measured to determine the degree of allergy.
The objective is to pinpoint the cause of the allergy and develop a proactive plan to help your child live a healthy life.
Foods to Avoid
While eggs benedict are an obvious dish to avoid, others may not be as readily identifiable. It is important to always read ingredient labels on prepackaged foods. When eating out, certain things should also be avoided, and it is critical to know what they are. Here’s a list that outlines the most prevalent, but does not include all foods containing egg:
- Store-bought baking mixes (muffins, cakes, etc.)
- Salad dressings and sauces (such as Ranch and Hollandaise)
- Ice cream, custards, meringue, and puddings
Some other names are not easily recognized but indicate eggs may be an ingredient. Watch out for ingredients such as:
- Silico aluminate
You should always be sure to check with your specialist for other names of foods to avoid. Your specialist should be able to provide a list for you to take with you to the grocery store.
Vaccines Can Contain Eggs, Too
While certain vaccines, namely influenza, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), yellow fever, and rabies, can contain small traces of egg protein, your baby has probably either already had one or more of these vaccinations without incident or may not need them. Your pediatrician can best advise on the risks of these vaccines and if the risks of avoiding the vaccines are more threatening than the risk of an allergic reaction.
It can be heartbreaking to learn that your little one has an allergy to eggs. As a parent, you think about all the yummy things he/she will miss out on. It can also be nerve-racking as you try to prepare healthy meals cautiously. In the beginning, checking labels, rewriting recipes, and memorizing substitutions can seem daunting.
Take heart, though! Baking for your little one can still be easy and fun.
As your baby grows older, you can use cooking together as an opportunity to educate your child about their allergy to help them understand what their allergy means and what foods they must not come in contact with. Then, when they go out, you will have peace of mind, and they will have the confidence to choose safe foods. (and let’s not forget about the fact that you’ve taught them to cook for themselves at an early age!) Talk about a parenting WIN!
There are many wonderful substitutes for an egg that can be incorporated into your baking and cooking that provide fiber, protein, and vitamins for baby.
Try this recipe!
Pinterest provides some excellent recipes for egg-free families, and here is a helpful substitution table for baking:
1 TBSP of boiled flaxseed = 1 egg (You can boil 1/3 cup of ground flaxseed in 1 cup of water and refrigerate for easy access for later in the week!)
1/2 Cup of tofu = 1 egg
1 banana = 1 egg
Allergic reactions can be very scary, especially when your child cannot communicate their experience to you verbally. This article aims to help identify what a reaction looks like, how to treat it quickly, and helpful insights to ensure your baby grows strong and healthy. Having a good working knowledge about egg allergies in babies will also provide you with peace of mind as you and your child work toward optimum health.