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Introducing Eggs - When Can I Give My Baby Eggs?

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Question: Introducing Eggs - When Can I Give My Baby Eggs?
Eggs (along with milk, peanuts and tree nuts) are one of the most allergenic offenders on the big 8 list of food allergies.
Answer: An egg allergy occurs when your baby's immune system overreacts to the protein found in eggs.

Start with Egg Yolks

While there is no reason to delay eggs, if you are concerned, you can introduce just egg yolks (and not egg whites) whenever your child starts to show an interest in solid foods. Yolks are quite nutritious, too. A 2002 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that egg yolks can increase iron levels in babies 6-12 months of age and that eggs fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids also help increase DHA levels in the same age range. Both of these findings are a bonus for babies who are starting to lose their own iron stores or who might have to be weaned from breast milk at this age.

While you can separate the yolk from the white before cooking, this can sometimes leave bits of egg white behind Even a little bit of the the protein can cause a reaction. The best way to separate the egg is to cook it first by hard boiling. Then you can carefully peel off the egg white (use it in your own tuna salad or other salad) and mash the yolk with a fork. To get a smoother consistency, add breast milk, formula or water a little at a time while you mash.

However, there is no medical reason to delay egg whites, as that won't necessarily help stave off a reaction. Egg whites can be introduced starting as soon as your baby is ready for solid foods (see more on introducing solid foods and food allergies).

Important: The first time you introduce eggs, be sure to watch for the signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms, swelling of the mouth or throat, vomiting or diarrhea and loss of consciousness), know how to respond and be ready to call 9-1-1 immediately.

A Note About Shots and Eggs

Some shots contain egg and can cause an allergic reaction. For example, the MMR vaccine contains egg and is given around 12-15 months. Another shot that contains egg is the flu shot and current recommendations start at 6 months of age. So, again, be sure and watch for a reaction and talk to your doctor if you have a family history of allergies and are concerned about these shots. Unfortunately the nasal mist vaccine for the flu is also a problem for those with egg allergy since eggs aren't an additive; the virus is actually grown in eggs for both the mist and the shot.

If you already know that your child has an egg allergy, it's generally recommended that they still get the MMR vaccination. According to Dr. Andrew Clark in Pulse, "All children with egg allergy should receive MMR vaccination, even if the allergy to egg is severe. Current guidelines recommend that children with a history of current asthma, or those with airways narrowing during egg reactions, should be vaccinated in hospital. All other children can be safely immunized in primary care, where facilities for treatment of anaphylaxis should be available. Influenza vaccination is contraindicated in children with egg allergy." Be sure and talk to your health care provider about your options.

Do you have a question you'd like to see answered? You can send your questions to me at babyparenting@aboutguide.com and I will answer them here on the site.

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