New Vision (Kampala)

29 November 2012

Uganda: Children Are More Prone to Worms

Approximately 12 in every 100 children are allergic to eggs. This kind of allergy mostly stresses parents as they try to find the most appropriate nutritious food substitutes.

A new study about food allergies has offered some hopeful findings for parents of children with food allergies.

This study suggests that some children with egg allergies could safely consume such eggs if they are prepared at a high enough temperature for a long enough time.

What is 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.

It is also argued that many allergic children will outgrow their condition by age 10, allowing them to safely expand their eating options over time.

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.

Eggs from chicken are one of the most common food allergens in children. 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."

The team conducted 36 "oral food challenges" that involved exposing patients diagnosed with an egg allergy to three eggs that had been baked into a standard cake/bread recipe for a half hour at 3500.

More than half (56%) of the patients displayed tolerance to the food, leading the authors to conclude that a majority of patients had outgrown their condition. And this, they said, could lead to such patients being able to embark on a much more diverse diet and perhaps the development of even greater food tolerance down the road.

In most cases, children do appear to outgrow allergies, but parents should be cautious about foods that have caused past reactions.

In the case of egg allergies, there may be something different about the egg cooked into a baked product than eating a fried egg.

Could it be the dose of the egg protein or maybe the change in the protein structure as a result of baking that makes it different and less allergenic? It is hard to say.

The bottom line is to be cautious in trying foods that contain ingredients that have been known to cause severe allergic reactions. It would be wise seek medical advise if the allergy persists.

The writer is a medical doctor

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