YOUR GUIDE TO THRIVE: EGG ALLERGY

EGGS ALLERCY FACTS

Problem proteins

It is the proteins in an egg that trigger an allergic reaction. They’re found in both the white and yolk, but an allergy to egg white (albumen) is more common.

Baked might be better

Some people will have an allergic reaction if they eat raw or partially cooked egg (such as in mayonnaise or a poached egg) but can tolerate baked egg (in a cake, for example) because cooking the egg changes the protein slightly.

Eggs to avoid

If you’re allergic to hen’s eggs, you will also need to avoid the eggs of other birds like ducks, geese and quail because they contain similar proteins.

Look but don’t touch

Touching raw eggs or eggshells can cause a reaction in some people who are severely allergic to eggs.

Team Tip

Vegan recipes and foods can provide great egg-free options!

Q&A: Living with an egg allergy

Q: Can I breastfeed a baby who’s allergic to eggs?

A: When you breastfeed, small amounts of egg proteins will be in your milk. If your baby is showing allergic symptoms, then it might be useful to stop eating eggs for a fortnight. Monitor whether his or her symptoms improve and, if they don’t, try reintroducing eggs back into your own diet.

Always seek advice and guidance from your GP, health visitor or allergy specialist before changing your diet with breastfeeding a baby with a suspected/confirmed allergy.

Q: How do I cook without eggs?

A: Thanks partly to the upsurge in veganism, you’ll find a wealth of egg-free products in the supermarkets, including mayonnaise and pancake mixes.

While eggs are a useful binding agent in foods like cakes and meatballs, you’ll find plenty of alternatives in your cupboard. Mashed sweet potato and even the gluey liquid from a can of chickpeas can work wonders in a cake. The latter, known as aquafaba, even whisks into an incredible egg-free meringue. You can also buy powdered egg replacers in most major supermarkets too.

Check out recipes on egg substitutions, and remember we have loads of great egg-free meal and baking ideas here.  You can also have a look at the Vegan Society too.

Q: Will my child grow out of an egg allergy?

A: Good news! Many children have begun to outgrow an egg allergy by the time they reach five. However, some children do remain allergic to eggs into adulthood.

Q: What is the egg ladder?

A:  If your child is showing signs of growing out of their egg allergy they may be asked to come and do a hospital challenge to baked egg.  This means giving small amount of well-cooked/baked egg in something like a scone or cake to your child under medical supervision.  If this is tolerated it may be suggested that you try the egg ladder.  This is where you try different forms of egg in stages, moving from very well cooked to less cooked to see if they can ultimately tolerate all forms of egg.

It is important not to try the egg ladder at home unless you have been advised to do so by a health professional.

Q: What are the chances of growing out of an egg allergy?

A: Most children will outgrow an egg allergy by adulthood. Leading paediatric allergist, Professor Adam Fox explains: “If it’s a delayed-type allergy your chances are really good, those are usually outgrown by (the age of) one or two, but there’s always a few stragglers!” He says that with an immediate-type egg allergy, children with smaller skin prick test results and milder allergic reactions, particularly those who can tolerate baked egg are more likely to grow out of their egg allergy. He says it’s “rare” to find an egg-allergic adult but warns that children with severe eczema or asthma are less likely to outgrow their allergy.

Children with an egg allergy have got a 20% chance of developing an allergy to sesame, peanut or tree nuts.

Q: Why can some people tolerate baked or well-cooked eggs but not raw or “runny” eggs?

A: Professor Adam Fox explained this in a recent webinar with The Allergy Team, he told us:

“Egg is one of these more unusual foods, in different forms you can get very different results. 80% of allergic kids are allergic to egg when it’s in the raw or clean form (but) if it’s really well cooked and baked or what we call “extensively heated” in the form of cakes and waffles and muffins and things, they’ll be absolutely fine and they genuinely tolerate it. And the reason is, that the bit of the egg white that they’re allergic to is something called albumin, which is a protein that’s very, very heat sensitive. And once it’s been heated to a certain degree, the protein unfolds. And it’s actually a different shape that your immune system just won’t recognise. It doesn’t know it’s there. “

However, he went on to explain that some children are allergic to a different egg protein that doesn’t behave in the same way and so it’s difficult to predict how your child will react to baked egg. You should always speak to your doctor before giving your egg-allergic child any form of egg.

Q: What foods contain eggs and how are they labelled?

A: Eggs are a common ingredient. Foods like quiche, pancakes, mayonnaise and cakes usually contain eggs but you may also find them listed as ingredients in things like royal icing, some ice creams and confectionery. Eggs are sometimes used as a ‘wash’ on pastries and bread too.

Q: How do I cook without eggs?

A: Thanks partly to the upsurge in veganism, you’ll find a wealth of egg-free products in the supermarkets, including mayonnaise and pancake mixes.

While eggs are a useful binding agent in foods like cakes and meatballs, there are plenty of alternatives: mashed sweet potato and even the gluey liquid from a can of chickpeas can work wonders in a cake. The latter, known as aquafaba, even whisks into an incredible egg-free meringue. You can also buy powdered egg replacers in most major supermarkets too.

Check out recipes our page here on egg substitutions, and remember we have loads of great egg-free meal and baking ideas here.  You can also have a look at the Vegan Society too.

Be ingredient-savvy!

These ingredients can derive from egg, although they may not all cause an allergic reaction… Albumin, globulin, ovoglobulin, ovomucin, vitellin, livetin, ovovitellin, lysozyme, lecithin (E322).

Credits & More Info

Written by: The Allergy Team, 15th March 2021

Reviewed by:
Rachel De Boer, Specialist Paediatric Allergy Dietitian

WRITER Sophie Barton
DATE Feb 2021
INTERNAL REVIEW KC, 23/2/21, 5/3/21, 16/3/21, 16/7/21
INTERNAL REVIEW 2 SK, 24/2/21
EXTERNAL REVIEW 1 Approved Rachel De Boer, Dietitian 3/3/21
EXTERNAL REVIEW 2 Approved David Mass, GP, 15/3/21

References

[1] Hasan SA, Wells RD, Davis CM (2013). “Egg hypersensitivity in review”. Allergy Asthma Proc. 34 (1): 26–32.
doi :10.2500/aap.2013.34.3621. PMID 23406934.
[2] BSACI guidelines

Other references

NHS-PAE019_immunising_egg_allergic_children.pdf
NHS-Egg-Allergy.pdf
Anaphylaxis/Egg Allergy:The Facts.pdf
NHS-Egg-Allergy-in-children.pdf
www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/conditions-and-symptoms/36-types-of-food-allergy#download_access
NHS: How do I introduce egg into my child’s diet? The ‘egg ladder’.pdf

Disclaimer: All information provided by The Allergy Team Ltd is general information only.
Please contact your GP or other qualified healthcare professionals for specific advice.

MORE ABOUT FOOD ALLERGIES

Click here to find about the causes of a foodallergy  and the symptoms of a food allergy.