If you have a child who's allergic to eggs, keeping eggs and products containing eggs out of your child's diet requires constant food vigilance. Eggs are one of the more common childhood allergies, according to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but luckily an egg allergy often resolves itself by adolescence. Children who have an egg allergy can react to the proteins in the yolk, the white or both. Some can tolerate cooked egg but not raw. Eggs find their way into many foods and a few substances you might not have considered, like vaccines.
Characteristics of Egg Allergy
Even though it's a common allergy, only around 0.5 percent of children have a reaction to eggs, explains the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. But of children with allergies, 5 percent have an egg allergy. Egg is the most common food allergen in babies and in children with the skin condition eczema, points out the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Fortunately, 70 percent of children outgrow their egg allergy by the time they're 16, and around half will outgrow it by age 2, according to the Children's National Medical Center. If you're raising a child with an egg allergy, it might help to know that this too shall pass -- eventually.
As the parent of a child with allergies, it's essential to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Allergy symptoms can vary, from digestive upset to runny nose, trouble breathing, wheezing, hives or rash. A serious reaction called "anaphylaxis" can also occur; an anaphylactic reaction causes circulatory collapse, where your child might have difficulty breathing or have abdominal cramping. A drop in blood pressure and rapid pulse or collapse can accompany these symptoms. As you might have guessed, anaphylaxis requires emergency medical treatment.
Foods Containing Eggs
Your child could be allergic to either the white or the yolk of the egg, or both. More children develop allergy symptoms from eating the egg white than yolks, but if your child is allergic, it's better to avoid both egg white and yolk, since a small amount of one could contaminate the other. Most baked goods contain eggs; other egg sources include soups, salad dressing, breaded meats, sauces and even root beer. Some types of baking powder also contain egg whites. Words that indicate eggs in an ingredient list include "egg" or "ova," as well as "albumin," "globulin" or "livitin." A fat substitute called Simplesse also contains eggs. Be sure to carefully read the ingredient list of any packaged food before serving it to your child.
Vaccinations are a concern for many parents. But if you have a child with an egg allergy, vaccinations -- particularly the flu vaccine -- can also be a source of allergy. The influenza vaccine is incubated in egg, so doctors often recommend that people with an egg allergy not get the vaccine. However, it's possible to first give a test dose of the vaccine -- best done by an allergist in a medical office -- for children who are at high risk of complications from the flu, to check for a reaction. Giving the vaccine in split doses can help reduce a reaction, according to the ACAAI. Yellow fever vaccine should not be given to those with an egg allergy, but this vaccine isn't commonly given in the United States.