Eggs are slipped into so many products on the market that you must channel your inner Nancy Drew and investigate everything carefully when you’re raising a child with an egg allergy. About 0.5 percent of children have this allergy, but most outgrow it eventually, according to Dr. Jonathan Spergel of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In the meantime, constant vigilance is the only way to keep your child egg-free.
Egg Allergy Basics
In a child who is allergic to eggs, the immune system releases chemicals that cause rashes, wheezing and other nasty allergy symptoms whenever the body detects the presence of egg proteins. Some children are allergic to just the white of the egg, but according to KidsHealth.org, some are also allergic to the yolk.
Ultimately, you need your child’s pediatrician to confirm that your child is allergic to eggs, but typical symptoms are a bumpy rash, intestinal distress and sneezing soon after touching eggs or eating foods that contain eggs. In severe cases, a child’s airways can swell up and cut off his breathing after exposure to egg.
Shielding Him From Eggs
Scour the ingredient label of every item of food before serving it to your child. Be on the lookout for packaging notices that give warnings such as “made on machines that also process eggs” and avoid any foods that list mayonnaise, albumin, meringue, ovalbumin or surimi on their ingredient labels. When you’re eating out, avoid feeding your child baked goods, pastas, marshmallows or nougat, and ask your waiter to check that nothing in your child’s meal has any contact with eggs.
Keep your child away from anything that has an egg wash, like bread or some types of pretzels. You must also stress to your child that he shouldn’t eat anything unless you’ve approved it.
Egg-proofing Your Kitchen
Ideally you’ll keep eggs out of your house altogether, but if the rest of your family members love the little devils, store them on a high shelf. Scrub each dish and utensil that touches egg with soap and hot water. When it comes to preparing recipes that call for eggs, try out a variety of substitutions in your favorite dishes to find the ones that you like best. To replace one egg, try adding 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon of either oil or vinegar to a recipe. For a sweet dish, add 1 tablespoon of pureed fruit. According to KidsHealth.org, both bananas and apricots will work well.
All caregivers have to understand the importance of protecting your child from eggs. If he’s in day care or preschool, pack all his food rather than letting him eat provided snacks, and ask the care providers to sit with him at meals to ensure he doesn’t try another child’s food. In case he does have a reaction, always carry antihistamines. If his allergy is severe, your doctor might also recommend all caretakers have a shot of epinephrine available.
Consult your pediatrician before your child gets a flu shot because the vaccine might contain a small amount of egg. Finally, though your child will likely grow out of his allergy, it’s not up to you to do the testing. Once your child reaches school age, your pediatrician should test your child’s reaction to egg to see whether he’s still allergic.