Besides milk, egg is the most common food allergy in children affecting around 2 percent. The severity of the symptoms vary widely from mild cases with just a light skin rash to life-threatening anaphylaxis. The good news though is that around 70 percent of children will outgrow their allergy to egg products by their sixteenth birthday.
Egg is found in a wide variety of foods, often where you would not expect it. Whilst it is the egg white (albumin) that most commonly causes a reaction it is wise to avoid any egg derivative due to the likelihood of cross-contamination.
It is also the case that an egg allergy can be to all forms of egg or just to those that have not been cooked for long – e.g. boiled eggs or mayonnaise. Despite it being the case that around 75% of those with egg allergy can eat food with well cooked eggs such as cakes and biscuits this should not be assumed and any testing needs to be done under professional supervision.
Egg Allergy Symptoms
When an allergic child is exposed to egg products the reaction occurs within a short time. Also it is important to recognise an allergic reaction as they can progress into more extreme reactions with further exposure. The following symptoms are all indicators of an allergy to eggs:
- Skin reactions – hives, itching, swelling, tingling of mouth
- Abdominal pain, sickness and / or diarrhea
- Red or itchy eyes
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Breathing difficulties and / or wheezing
- Anaphylaxis (in extreme cases)
Whilst it may sound easy avoiding food products containing egg derivatives can be a challenge. On a positive note both in the U.S. and European Union there are food labelling guidelines which mean all foods containing egg must be labelled as such. However, this will obviously not apply to unpackaged food, such as those served in restaurants.
The following foods are all likely to contain egg and you should check the ingredients:
- Quiches & flans
- Egg pasta
- Processed meat and fish products
- Egg noodles
- Ice cream
- Chocolate bars
- Vegetarian burgers
This list is by no means complete and some of the items may be egg free. It is essential that you check the ingredients though to be certain.
There are also a number of egg-based ingredients that you need to check for. These are not always obvious and so here is a list of the most common:
- Albumin (albumen)
- Cholesterol-free egg substitutes
- Silici albuminate
Vaccines & Egg Allergy
Certain vaccines are produced using eggs and contain very small traces of egg proteins. Whilst it is generally considered that the MMR vaccine (measles/mumps/rubella) is safe for children with egg allergy the concentration of egg proteins is higher in the flu vaccine. If an allergic child is receiving a flu jab it is recommended that this be discussed with the doctor. Usually a brand of vaccine with a low concentration of egg proteins can be safely administered.