Childhood egg allergy a 'piece of cake' for researchers

May 6, 2013

Young children who suffer from allergy to raw egg are being fed cake containing baked egg in a new study aimed at helping children to outgrow their allergy.

" is the most common in Australia, affecting 9% of young children," says University of Adelaide Merryn Netting, from the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI).

Ms Netting, who is based at the Women's and Children's Hospital, has 20 years' experience as a paediatric dietitian. She is conducting the CAKE (Can egg Allergic Kids eat baked Egg?) Study with the Women's and Children's Hospital Allergy Unit to see if small amounts of baked egg help children to more quickly overcome their allergy.

Speaking in the lead up to Food Allergy Awareness Week (13-19 May), Ms Netting says: "Ten years ago, if a child had an egg allergy we would recommend a totally egg free diet. However, our thinking on the issue has now changed – we introduce children early to baked egg, and if they tolerate it we encourage them to include it in their diet regularly. This new research is helping to put that thinking to the test."

Ms Netting says when egg is baked, the heating process destroys part of the protein in egg. "Cooking the egg changes the shape of the in its protein, which means the that would normally react to the egg protein can't latch onto it. Eating baked egg is associated with changes in the that signal development of tolerance to egg, and this is why introducing baked egg can be beneficial," she says.

"The real test comes at the end of the study when we do a raw egg challenge with the child, to see if there has been any improvement in the allergy over time."

So far, about 40 children have participated in the study. More than 100 South Australian children are still needed.

"Parents know the seriousness of the problem and the range of egg allergy can have for their children. That's why they want to help, so that the knowledge from studies like this one can benefit other families.

"Because of the risk of an allergic reaction, all of our food challenges are done under medical supervision," Ms Netting says.

Related Stories

An egg a day to keep allergies away

November 9, 2012

Avoiding sweet treats like pumpkin bread and cookies this holiday season might not be necessary for children with egg allergies. New studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual ...

Recommended for you

How to become a T follicular helper cell

July 30, 2015

Follicular helper Tcells (TFH cells), a rare type of immune cell that is essential for inducing a strong and lasting antibody response to viruses and other microbes, have garnered intense interest in recent years but the ...

Uncovering the secrets of immune system invaders

July 20, 2015

The human immune system is a powerful and wonderful creation. If you cut your skin, your body mobilizes a series of different proteins and cells to heal the cut. If you are infected by a virus or bacteria, your immune system ...

The role of the microbiota in preventing allergies

July 10, 2015

The human body is inhabited by billions of symbiotic bacteria, carrying a diversity that is unique to each individual. The microbiota is involved in many mechanisms, including digestion, vitamin synthesis and host defense. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.