Exposing infants to heated egg in a properly managed manner along with severe eczema treatment is a secure and effective way to minimize hen egg allergy in infants who have a high risk of developing allergies.

The study enabled researchers to develop an efficacious technique to prevent the second wave of the allergic outbreak caused by food allergy. The research was published in The Lancet.

The researchers wanted to follow up on the evidence which suggests that early introduction of eggs in infants can minimize allergies in them more efficaciously than delayed introduction. Some have, though, theorized that early introduction of such foods can exacerbate the allergic symptoms.

The researchers decided to explore whether or not the gradual exposure of eggs to infants suffering from eczema in conjunction with optimal eczema treatment would prevent egg allergy at infants aged 1-year-old.

The researchers carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in which they selected, from two centers in Japan, infants aged 4 to 5 months of age suffering from eczema. The researchers excluded infants born before 37 weeks of gestational age, infants with experience of ingestion of hen’s eggs or egg products, infants who had a history of rapid allergic reaction to hen’s eggs, infants who had a history of delayed allergic reaction to any certain kind of foods, and infants who showed any type of severe disease complications.

Infants were randomly divided equally in either the placebo group or the early introduction to egg group. They were divided in a block size of four and grouped by center and sex. Infants in the early introduction to egg group were given 50 mg of oral heated egg powder per day at the age of 6 months till the age of 9 months and 250 mg of oral heated egg powder daily till they reached 12 months of age.

The researchers treated the infants’ eczema with excessive force, at entry and managed their symptoms without worsening their condition, throughout the duration of the clinical trial. As it was a double blind trial, physicians and the participating infants both were unaware of whether they were dealing with placebo or not, and allocation was hidden as well.

The main outcome that researchers were looking for was the number of infants in which hen’s egg allergy was established by open oral food challenges when the infants reached 12 months of age. The trial was observed and evaluated blindly using standard techniques for all participants who were randomly divided in the placebo and egg group.

Between the three-year period of Sept 18, 2012, and Feb 13, 2015, the researchers randomly grouped 147 participants, 73 were allocated to the egg group and 74 were allocated to the placebo group.

The trial was halted depending on the results of the scheduled interim analysis of 100 participants who had shown a massive contrast between the two groups. 4 infants which equaled 9% of 47 participants had shown an allergy to the egg they were fed in the egg group, while 18 of 47 which equaled 18% in the placebo group had shown an allergic reaction.

In the main analysis, 5 of 60 participants had an egg allergy in the egg group which equaled just 8%, compared with 23 of 61, which approximated to 38%, in the placebo group.

The major difference in adverse reactions between the two groups was hospital admissions, six out of 60 in the egg group, which was 10%, whereas in the placebo group there were zero hospital admissions.

19 adverse events occurred in 15% of the egg group participants, compared to 14 events in 18% of the placebo group participants after they had been given the egg and placebo oral powder.

The results concluded that exposing infants to heated egg in a properly managed manner along with severe eczema treatment is a secure and effective way to minimize hen egg allergy in infants who have a high risk of developing allergies. Moreover, the researchers were able to design an effective strategy to prevent the second wave of the allergic outbreak caused by food allergy in a practical manner.

Characterized by body’s immune system’s reaction to some type of foods, food allergies are accompanied with moderate to severe symptoms. Amongst the common symptoms are skin rashes, itchy sensations in the ears, mouth and throat, vomiting and swelling around eyes, tongue, roof of the mouth and lips.

Due to the genetic nature of these allergies, they are often diagnosed by looking at patient’s family history for any sort of allergies family members might have. Doctors will also often look at wide range of genetic/metabolic disorders and other allergic reactions such as eczema, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease (gluten allergy), autoimmune thyroid disease, wheezing, allergic rhinitis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Previous studies have shown that feeding children eggs and peanuts from an early age might prevent them from developing allergies at a later age. One such study showed that risks of developing allergies to eggs and peanuts are reduced by 40% and 70%, respectively.

Researchers from the Imperial College London, headed by Dr Robert Boyle, conducted the largest meta-analysis to find evidence on the effect of feeding allergenic foods to babies and the allergic responses they develop.

The researchers analyzed data from 146 studies and observed the allergy trends in over 200,000 children. The studies which were analyzed were published between January and March 2016, and the data sources they utilized included MEDLINE, CENTRAL, LILACS, Web of Science and EMBASE databases.

This large study was commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association recently on 20th September.