Egg whites are an excellent source of protein but, is it something you should give your baby, and at what age?
If your baby is less than a year old, then it’s best to wait. Most pediatricians will advise you to wait for the baby’s first birthday before giving egg whites. The reason is that egg whites fall into that category of top allergenic foods that could cause severe reactions if the person has an allergy to the particular protein found in it. In babies, this can be more severe, so it’s usually recommended that one wait for the first year.
Babies have a weak immune system, which is still developing, and sometimes this watch guard of the body can actually work in reverse. What this means is that the protein which is found is egg whites is sometimes seen as the bad guy and attacked by the body’s immune system, thus causing allergic reactions. Symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, rash, hives, labored breathing, fall in blood pressure, swelling and a rapid pulse.
Can I Give My Baby Egg Whites? After Year One
While delaying giving eggs to babies who may be allergic to egg whites does not, in any way, ensure that giving it after a year will not cause reactions, it is still better to wait. Older babies, with a better developed immune system, will be able deal with it more effectively. Also, it’s always a good idea to give the egg yolk first, though this could cause a reaction too, but an allergy to the yellow is less common. However, always cook the yolk and separate it from the white after cooking and then feed it to the baby. Do this in the daytime. As a rule, always introduce a new food during the day and watch for signs of a reaction.
A word of caution: although egg yolks are safer than whites, do not give them raw or runny. Yummy as they might be, they are not without risks. One main reason is the potential risk of a Salmonella infection, which is basically a bacterial infection that causes food poisoning. It happens due to eating uncooked or partially cooked eggs. Salmonellosis can be particularly bad in children or babies, and can lead to severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Always, always cook the eggs well. Apart from eggs, other foods like milk, poultry and some vegetables, may also be infected with salmonella. Thus, cooked food is always best for your baby.
Coming back to egg whites, if your baby has not reacted to the egg yolk, then in a day or two, try the egg white. Again, wait and watch. If there is a reaction, contact your doctor immediately. You must always be armed with the knowledge of your family’s allergy history. This is essential since it will prepare you for the possible reactions as well as tell you what food to put off till later, or even completely.
Vaccines That Contain Egg
There are certain vaccinations which contain egg and you should know which these are, especially if there is a family history of an egg allergy. The two most common ones are measles-mumps-rubella, or what called the MMR vaccine, and the flu, or influenza vaccines. These contain some, though very little, egg protein – eggs are used to produce the influenza vaccine.
However, in the majority of the cases, even those babies who have an egg allergy do not react to these vaccines. It is thus considered quite safe to administer these to children who have a family history of allergies to eggs. But no one wants to be in that one-percent bracket where your baby does have a reaction. So, it is best to tell your doctor about the allergy and monitor the child for symptoms after the vaccine is given.
Be Wary of Foods That Might Contain Eggs
Labels, labels, labels. If your baby does not take to eggs, then never feed them anything without reading the information on the pack. Or if you are eating out, always check with the chef about the ingredients. Most baked dishes contain eggs, as do chocolate, custard, and some fried foods. Always ask, or better still, bake something at home, at least till your baby is two years old. This way you can make sure that there are no accidents.