Early new research offers some hopeful findings for parents of children with food allergies.
One new study suggests that some children with hen egg allergies could safely consume such eggs if they are baked at a high enough temperature for a long enough time. What’s more, investigators suggest that parents who start to incorporate such cooked eggs into their child’s diet may actually help them develop a broader tolerance to eggs than by avoiding eggs altogether.
A second study argues that many allergic children will outgrow their condition by age 10, allowing them to safely expand their eating options over time.
However, two experts strongly advised caution in introducing allergy-causing foods back into children’s diet and said that this must only be done under medical supervision.
Both studies were scheduled for presentation this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Anaheim, Calif.
Dr. Rushani Weerasooriya Saltzman, an attending physician in the division of allergy and immunology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led the egg-allergy study.
“Hen’s egg is one of the most common food allergens in children,” Saltzman said, noting that upwards of 600,000 American children are currently diagnosed with the condition. “Fortunately, most patients will outgrow their egg allergy by late childhood. However, until one may outgrow his or her egg allergy, egg avoidance can cause significant dietary limitations and considerable impacts on quality of life.”
But heat-driven changes in the protein structure of eggs can make them safe for allergic children, Saltzman’s team found. “(And) furthermore,” she said, “those who can tolerate these extensively heated egg products appear to outgrow their allergy to regular or ‘native’ egg at an accelerated rate when compared to those patients with egg allergy who maintain strict avoidance to egg.”