A better understanding of egg allergy in US children
Published online: May 3, 2020
Food allergies affect about 8% of children in America which can decrease quality of life for both children and their families. Allergy to egg specifically affects 0.9% of all children and 1.3% of children under <5 years, making it the second most common allergy after cow’s milk allergy in young children. While the severity of allergic reactions to egg can vary from mild to severe, previous research has actually found egg to be the most common food to cause anaphylaxis in infants presenting to the emergency room with food reactions. Egg allergy is also interesting in that there are children who will have a reaction to raw or lightly cooked egg but can eat egg if it is in baked form. Some studies suggest those who have this baked-egg tolerance are more likely to outgrow their egg allergy.
Dr. Samady and her colleagues address many questions remaining about egg allergy in their study, “Egg Allergy in US Children” published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. They conducted a national survey of parents of 38,408 children between October of 2015 and September of 2016, gathering detailed information regarding allergy symptoms to multiple forms of egg, the severity of these allergic reactions, how reactions were treated, and whether or not the children outgrew their egg allergy, and how it affected their quality of life.
The researchers concluded that nearly 1 in 100 US children currently have an egg allergy, with the highest rates observed among the youngest children. In evaluating egg allergy amongst different racial groups, they found egg allergy was twice as common among Black children compared to their White peers (1.6% vs 0.7%). It was also found that 60% of children with egg allergy also reported having other food allergies, with milk and peanut allergy being the most common. Asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis were also more prevalent in children with an egg allergy compared to children who had other food allergies. Just over 1 in 4 children with egg allergy reported experiencing a severe allergic reaction to egg, and children with egg allergies reported an emergency department (ED) visit for an allergic reaction more than children with other food allergies. Among children with egg allergy, roughly 2 in 3 reported baked-egg tolerance and those with baked-egg tolerance reported fewer food allergy-related visits to the ED. Moreover, children with baked-egg tolerance reported a better quality of life compared to those who could not eat baked-egg products. The study demonstrated the importance of ensuring all children with egg allergy are appropriately evaluated by a physician since many have other allergic diseases and determination of baked-egg tolerance may improve their quality of life. Furthermore, evaluation by an allergy specialist provide families with an opportunity for much-needed education on how to avoid egg products and what to do if their child has a reaction.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.