Eggs improve biomarkers related to infant brain development

December 21, 2017 by Neil Schoenherr, Washington University in St. Louis
Eggs improve biomarkers related to infant brain development
Credit: Washington University in St. Louis

Feeding eggs to infants could provide them with key nutrients for better brains.

A study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis finds who were in introduced to eggs beginning at 6 months showed significantly higher blood concentrations of , other biomarkers in choline pathways, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

"Eggs have been consumed throughout human history, but the full potential of this nutritionally complete food has yet to be recognized in many resource-poor settings around the world," said Lora Iannotti, associate dean for public health and associate professor at the Brown School.

She is lead author of the study, "Eggs Early in Complementary Feeding Increase Choline Pathway Biomarkers and DHA: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Ecuador," published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Choline (a nutrient that acts like vitamin B) and DHA (an that serves as a structural component of the brain) play vital roles in and function.

"Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content," Iannotti said. "Eggs provide essential fatty acids, proteins, choline, vitamins A and B12, selenium and other critical nutrients at levels above or comparable to those found in other animal food products, but they are relatively more affordable."

Eggs deliver their nutrients in holistic package, or "food matrix," which improves absorption and metabolism, Iannotti said.

Iannotti and her co-authors from such universities as Texas, Maryland and Johns Hopkins conducted a randomized, controlled trial in Ecuador in 2015. Children ages 6-9 months were randomly assigned to be given one egg per day for 6 months, versus a control group, which did not receive eggs.

A previous paper from the same study, published in Pediatrics in June, showed that early introduction of eggs significantly improved linear growth and reduced stunting among infants who were introduced to beginning at 6 months.

Explore further: Eggs can significantly increase growth in young children

More information: Lora L Iannotti et al. Eggs early in complementary feeding increase choline pathway biomarkers and DHA: a randomized controlled trial in Ecuador, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017). DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.117.160515

Lora L. Iannotti et al. Eggs in Early Complementary Feeding and Child Growth: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pediatrics (2017). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-3459

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