Early regular egg exposure in infants with eczema: A randomized controlled trial

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Aug;132(2):387-92.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.05.002. Epub 2013 Jun 26.


Background: Observational studies suggest that early regular ingestion of allergenic foods might reduce the risk of food allergy.

Objective: We sought to determine whether early regular oral egg exposure will reduce subsequent IgE-mediated egg allergy in infants with moderate-to-severe eczema.

Methods: In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial infants were allocated to 1 teaspoon of pasteurized raw whole egg powder (n = 49) or rice powder (n = 37) daily from 4 to 8 months of age. Cooked egg was introduced to both groups after an observed feed at 8 months. The primary outcome was IgE-mediated egg allergy at 12 months, as defined based on the results of an observed pasteurized raw egg challenge and skin prick tests.

Results: A high proportion (31% [15/49]) of infants randomized to receive egg had an allergic reaction to the egg powder and did not continue powder ingestion. At 4 months of age, before any known egg ingestion, 36% (24/67) of infants already had egg-specific IgE levels of greater than 0.35 kilounits of antibody (kUA)/L. At 12 months, a lower (but not significant) proportion of infants in the egg group (33%) were given a diagnosis of IgE-mediated egg allergy compared with the control group (51%; relative risk, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.38-1.11; P = .11). Egg-specific IgG4 levels were significantly (P < .001) greater in the egg group at both 8 and 12 months.

Conclusion: Induction of immune tolerance pathways and reduction in egg allergy incidence can be achieved by early regular oral egg exposure in infants with eczema. Caution needs to be taken when these high-risk infants are first exposed to egg because many have sensitization already by 4 months of age.

Keywords: Allergy prevention; IQR; Interquartile range; Kilounits of antibody per liter; RR; Relative risk; SPT; Skin prick test; complementary feeding; eczema; egg; food allergy; kU(A)/L; oral tolerance; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eczema / complications*
  • Eczema / epidemiology
  • Eczema / immunology
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Egg Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Eggs / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Skin Tests
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Egg Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E