Eggs are the ultimate breakfast staple. They’re in most baked goods and sweets. And they make a great afternoon snack. But if your child has an egg allergy, you might not be so excited about it.
Since eggs are tough to avoid, and this is why egg allergies are also tough to manage. Especially since most egg allergies make their first appearance during infancy. But in the meantime, there are ways to keep your child safe and reduce their risk of reaction. Here are some quick facts about baby egg allergies to get you started:
- Roughly 2% of babies and children are allergic to eggs
- Most babies outgrow their egg allergies by adolescence
- An egg allergy is a reaction to egg proteins
- Egg whites have more protein than egg yolks
- Cooking eggs breaks down the proteins your child is allergic to
Ready to learn more about egg allergies and how to prevent them?
Here’s what this guide covers:
- How to know if your baby has an egg allergy
- When to call 911 for egg allergies
- Top foods to avoid if your baby is allergic to eggs
- Egg allergy prevention and treatment
- Diagnosing egg allergies in babies and young children
- FAQ: Everything you need to know about egg allergies in babies
How to Know if your Baby has an Egg Allergy: Signs and Symptoms
Your baby’s egg allergy is an immune system response. Their body thinks eggs are an invader. So the immune system sends out antibodies. Antibodies fight the egg proteins — and this is what manifests as physical symptoms. Most allergy symptoms show up within 2 hours of ingestion and this is what they usually look like:
Mild egg allergy
- Congestion, runny nose, or sneezing
- Slight swelling around the mouth
- Skin rash, inflammation, or hives
Moderate egg allergy
- Cramps or stomach aches
Severe egg allergy
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
When to Call 911 for an Egg Allergy
Most egg allergies in babies are mild. But in some cases, egg allergies can be life-threatening. Seek emergency medical care and/or call 911 if your child’s reaction includes:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Stopped breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe swelling in the face, throat, or tongue
- Severe abdominal pain and/or cramping
- A sudden drop in blood pressure (look for dizziness or lightheadedness)
- Extremely fast pulse
Extreme symptoms show your infant is experiencing anaphylactic shock. It’s a severe, sudden allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.
While your child waits for emergency medical care, administer an epinephrine injection. This is also known as an EpiPen® or auto-injector — and it manages the severity of your child’s anaphylaxis. Following an epinephrine injection, your child may take over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines.
Note that even if your child’s reaction subsides, still seek immediate medical care. Sometimes after an initial anaphylaxis reaction, a second “wave” of symptoms may occur.
Top Foods to Avoid if your Baby has an Egg Allergy
When your child has an egg allergy, the best way to manage it is through diet. By limiting your child’s exposure to eggs, you mitigate their risk of reaction.
Parent and caregiver pro tips:
- Always wash your hands before and after preparing food at home. This helps avoid cross-contamination. Remember to clean prep surfaces, too.
- The more cooked an egg is, the less likely your child is to have a reaction to it.
- If your child has a known egg allergy, carry an epinephrine injector on you at all times.
What’s most surprising is that eggs aren’t always easy to find on food labels. Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid that contain egg proteins:
- Ovalbumin, ovoglobulin, or anything starting with “ovo” or “ova”
It's surprising for parents and caregivers to learn how many foods contain eggs. Here are some common household items that may cause an allergic reaction in your child:
Sweets commonly made with eggs
- Baked goods including cookies and cakes
Meats commonly made with eggs
- Processed deli meats
- Breaded chicken
Other foods commonly made with eggs
- Salad dressings
Because eggs are so common, it’s tough managing what your child can and can’t eat. Some parents or caregivers choose to replace eggs altogether. This includes making home-cooked meals with alternatives like:
- Vegetable oil
- Tapioca starch
- Arrowroot powder
- Commercial egg substitutes
Eggs in baked goods are usually used to bind or leaven. Luckily, foods other than eggs can do both.
Binding agent substitutes for eggs
- Nut butter
- Mashed bananas
- Fruit puree
Leavening agent substitutes for eggs
- Vegetable oil and baking powder
- Chia seeds
There are cookbooks and recipes available for egg-free dishes. And you can also research vegan alternatives. This is a great way to find tasty egg replacements in your child’s favorite meals and snacks.
How to Prevent and Treat Egg Allergies in Babies
Like most allergies, egg allergies aren’t curable. But the good news is that most babies often outgrow them. In the meantime, keep a close eye on your child’s symptoms and work with a doctor to plan ahead. Some common prevention and treatment techniques include:
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How to Diagnose Egg Allergies in Babies and Young Children
Talk with your child’s doctor if you believe they may be suffering from an egg allergy. They’ll talk with you about your child’s diet and symptoms. And they’ll examine your child for hives, rashes, and so on.
Should your doctor suspect an egg allergy, they can diagnose your child with any of these tests:
Your doctor or allergist applies allergens to your child’s back or forearm. Their back or forearm is then pricked to expose the skin to very small doses of common allergens. If your child’s skin reacts with hives, bumps, and so on, they may have an allergy.
Your doctor or allergist takes a small blood sample from your child. It’s sent to a lab and tested to reveal whether your child has an egg allergy.
Work with a doctor or allergist to build a food elimination diet. This removes certain foods or ingredients from your child’s diet for weeks at a time.
One at a time, you reintroduce foods to your child's diet. If your child has a reaction to a reintroduced food, it's likely they're allergic or sensitive to it. They could also have an egg intolerance.
FAQ: Everything you need to Know about Egg Allergies in Babies
Does an egg allergy put my baby at risk for other types of allergies?
- Foods like milk, soy, or peanuts
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Grass pollen
Your child may also be at risk for atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction on the skin. And there’s a possible link between asthma and egg allergies. If your child has an egg allergy, they may also have asthma, which can make allergic reactions more severe.
Check with your child's doctor to learn more about their specific allergies. And you can ask them for an allergy test for peace of mind.
Are egg allergies genetic?
Family history contributes to your child’s risk of developing an egg allergy. In this way, it’s genetic, or hereditary. But it’s not that cut and dried.
If one or both of a child’s parents have any kind of allergy or asthma, that child has a higher risk. For example, you and your partner both have asthma. In this case, your child may have an increased risk of egg allergy.
Can babies with egg allergies eat fully-cooked eggs?
Most babies living with an egg allergy are more allergic to the white than the yolk. Egg whites contain more proteins than yolks. And egg proteins break down when they’re heated (for example, baked or boiled).
Because of this, many babies can eat fully-cooked eggs without having a reaction. Here’s a breakdown of egg protein good groups:
Processed and fully-cooked eggs
- Store-bought cakes
- Store-bought cookies
- Homemade cakes
- Dried pasta and noodles
- Hard-boiled eggs with completely solid yolks
Lightly cooked eggs
- Soft, fried, or scrambled eggs
- Fresh egg pasta
- Breaded meats and foods
- Ice creams, pastries, and puddings
- Soft cookies
- Omelettes and quiches
- Raw cake or cookie batters
- Cake icing or frosting
- Condiments like horseradish, tartar sauce, and mayonnaise
If your child has an egg allergy, they may be able to tolerate foods in the first two groups. Processed and fully-cooked eggs likely have less active egg proteins. So they’re less likely to trigger a reaction.
Do vaccines contain egg proteins?
Vaccines prevent illnesses in babies and adults. And yes, some of them contain egg proteins. In some cases, these vaccines may provoke an allergic reaction (see question below).
Talk with your child’s doctor to learn more about how a certain vaccine may interact with their egg allergy. Your physician may test your child to see if a certain vaccine is likely to trigger a reaction.
Which vaccines provoke egg allergies in babies?
Some vaccines contain egg proteins which can trigger an allergic response. There may be other vaccines made with egg proteins, but here’s a list of the most common:The “flu shot” (also known as the flu vaccine or influenza vaccine)
Some variations contain small amounts of egg protein. There are types of flu shots that don’t have egg proteins but, usually, they’re only approved for adults (18+ years of age).
Even if your child has an egg allergy, they may not have a reaction to a flu shot. Talk with your doctor about your child’s allergy before they get a flu vaccination.The yellow fever vaccine
This vaccine isn’t generally recommended for babies who have egg allergies. It’s usually reserved for travelers at high risk while visiting other countries.
Talk with a medical professional about your child’s egg allergy and the yellow fever vaccine. In some cases, a doctor may test for egg allergy responses beforehand. Then, they may administer the vaccine under close medical supervision.The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is usually administered between 12 and 15 months of age. And it's made with egg proteins. Although, it's generally considered safe for babies with egg allergies.
Tell your doctor about your child's allergies. They'll be able to address any concerns before vaccine administration.
Can babies outgrow egg allergies?
Only about 2% of babies and young children have an egg allergy. And it’s rare for babies to have severe, life-threatening egg allergies. In any case, most babies do outgrow egg allergies when they reach adolescence.
Should I avoid eggs if I’m breastfeeding?
When mothers breastfeed, small amounts of food proteins pass on to the infant. This includes egg proteins. In which case, if your baby has a known egg allergy, you should avoid eating eggs while breastfeeding.
If you aren’t sure if your child has an egg allergy, check for common symptoms like skin rashes listed here. If they have a reaction, remove eggs from your diet and consult with a medical professional.
How do I check food labels to make sure my child doesn’t eat eggs by accident?
As we’ve already learned, eggs are in lots of foods — even ones you may not expect. Always check food labels, even if it's a product you’ve bought before. Look for ingredients like:
- Ovalbumin, ovoglobulin, or any ingredient that starts with “ova” or “ova”
Keep an eye out for phrases like “may contain eggs.” Some foods aren’t made with eggs. But they come in contact with other foods that might have. This is also known as cross-contamination. And while most companies include this on their food labels, others don’t.