Food allergies increased 18 percent in the decade between 1997 and 2007, according to one study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2009. It is now estimated that 3.9 percent of people suffer from food allergies—most of them children.
Milk allergies were the most prevalent food allergy, followed by allergies to peanuts and eggs.
Allergies are caused when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks a harmless substance such as a protein in food. The immune system creates antibodies to the offending food and the next time it is eaten, the body releases chemicals such as histamines to "protect" the body. When it comes to eggs, proteins in the egg white are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than those in the yolk, although some people are allergic to both.
The symptoms of an egg allergy are similar to other types of allergies and may include one or more of the following:
- skin reactions such as eczema, hives, or swelling
- stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- trouble breathing or wheezing
- stuffy or runny nose
- fast heartbeat
In extremely rare cases, anaphylactic shock may occur.
Egg allergy is the most common food allergy in children, as well as the most likely to resolve prior to school age. Nearly all allergic reactions due to eggs occur in those kids with infantile eczema.
Egg allergies usually appear at a very early age, with the severest reactions occurring between six and 15 months.
Typical symptoms of an egg allergy in children are skin contact reactions, redness of the face, or hives around the mouth if an egg-containing product is eaten.
Children with an egg allergy have a natural aversion to foods that contain eggs. A child with a normally healthy appetite will most often eschew eggs and even cakes and cookies.
Recipes for Kids with Egg Allergies
Coming up with something kids can eat that doesn't contain eggs can be a daunting task for parents. Eggs are almost always found in breads, pasta, cereals, pastries, cookies, and cakes. "Shiny" breads such as bagels and pretzels almost always contain eggs as well. Eggs often show up in candies, cream fillings, salad dressings, and beverages such as root beer. Also, any fried restaurant food (including french fries) that was used to cook egg-battered foods may trigger an allergic reaction.?
Foods that may or may not contain eggs include macaroni, marshmallows, and noodles, among others. Parents should consult the manufacturer of these products to be sure.
Also, any food that includes the words "emulsifier," "binder," or "coagulant," or any ingredients that begin with the word "ova" or "ova" on the label, will contain eggs.
Other ingredients to watch out for include:
- albumin (an egg protein)
- artificial or natural flavorings
- egg substitute (usually made with egg whites)
- lecithin E322
- silici albuminate
Non-food products that may contain egg include finger paints, shampoos, certain medicines, make-up, and some vaccines, including most flu vaccines, as well as those for yellow fever and MMR.
An egg allergy is extremely rare in adults. Clinical symptoms in adults almost always begin in childhood or young adulthood. Reactions are very rare as well. Even the most allergic adults usually have no more than mild nausea or a flaring of eczema after consuming an egg-containing product.
Other symptoms in adults may include lip or eyelid swelling, itchy or watery eyes, itchy ears or throat, shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing. Like children, adults with an egg allergy have a natural aversion to eggs.
Egg Substitute for Allergies
There are several commercial egg replacers on the market that are suitable for baking. Unlike egg substitutes, however, egg replacers cannot be used to prepare omelets or scrambles. Egg replacers are typically a combination of potato starch, tapioca starch and baking soda.