About Half of Children with Egg Allergies Can Eat Them If Baked
Food allergy is a growing public health concern with as many as 15 million people that have the condition. One of the top eight food allergens is eggs, affecting 0.2% of all Americans, or about 600,000 people. But thankfully, science is showing that many children tend to outgrow an egg allergy, or can at least tolerate the protein when it is baked within a product such as cakes and breads.
Egg is one of eight foods that account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions. The others are milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. According to new studies presented by Drs. Rushani Saltzman MD and Ruchi Gupta MD at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, about 55% of children will outgrow an egg allergy by age seven.
About 56% of children may be able to tolerate hen’s eggs when they are baked at 350 degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes. The median dose tolerated was 2/5 of a baked egg.
“Dietary introduction of baked egg by an allergist can broaden a child’s diet, improve quality of life and likely accelerate the development of an egg tolerance,” says Dr. Saltzman.
Although allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish are typically lifelong allergies for most children, Dr. Gupta noted that in his research a small proportion may outgrow shellfish or tree nut allergies as well.
Previous research into food allergies has found that small amounts of egg protein introduced gradually may help cure children who have an egg allergy. The theory is that the body can produce its own type of immunotherapy to get rid of food allergies. Parents though should never try introducing a known allergen to their child at home without the supervision and guidance of a board-certified allergist.
“Introducing an allergen back into a child’s diet can have severe consequences,” says Dr. Richard Weber ACAAI president-elect. Symptoms of egg allergy can range from mild to severe and include skin rashes, hives, nasal inflammation, vomiting or other digestive problems. Egg allergies rarely invoke anaphylaxis - a life threatening reaction, but it can occur.
Parents can locate a board-certified allergist in their area at AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org, a website sponsored by the ACAAI.
For parents of egg-allergic children, here are some substitutions for eggs in baking that can help expand your child’s menu:
• Commercial Egg Replacer Powders (such as EnerG or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer) can be used in all baked goods, and are especially good in cookies. It is flavorless, so it will not change the taste of your final product. In a blender or food processor, mix 1 and ½ teaspoons of powder and 2 tablespoons water.
• Silken tofu can replace egg in cakes, brownies, breads and cookies. The baked good won’t brown as deeply, but will be leave the final product very moist. Use ¼ cup of whipped silken tofu for each egg.
• Flax Seed Meal works best with grainier baked products such as waffles, bran muffins, pancakes, and oatmeal cookies. Whisk/blend together 1 teaspoon of flax seed powder with ¼ cup of water for each egg to be replaced.
• A vinegar/baking soda mixture can replace eggs in cakes, cupcakes and muffins, making them light and fluffy. Combine 1 tablespoon of vinegar (either white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar) with 1 teaspoon baking soda.
• Pureed fruit, such as mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, and pureed prunes can be used as an egg substitute, but you will need to increase baking time slightly. Use ¼ cup of fruit for each egg in cakes, quick breads and brownies.
• Buttermilk or yogurt can be an acceptable substitute in products that do not need to rise, such as cookies, flat breads, and bars.
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) (2012, November 9). An egg a day to keep allergies away.