The potential of a simple egg to improve maternal and child nutrition

Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Oct;14 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):e12678. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12678.


Evidence is mounting about the benefits of eggs for child nutrition and potential benefits for women during pregnancy and birth outcomes. Maternal consumption of eggs during lactation may also enhance the breast-milk composition of certain nutrients, thus contributing to the nutrition and potentially also to the development of breastfed children. Relative to single nutrient supplements, eggs deliver nutrients and other hormone or immune factors in compounds that may be more readily absorbed and metabolized. In addition to macronutrients, eggs contain a number of micronutrients, such as choline, that are known to have brain health promoting effects. Among children less than 2 years of age, consumption nearly universally increases with age. Large regional differences exist; the prevalence of egg consumption among African children is less than half that of most other world regions and threefold less than in Latin America and the Caribbean. Among women of reproductive age, egg consumption is strongly related to socio-economic status in a dose-response fashion with women in the lowest wealth quintile eating the fewest eggs and those in the highest wealth quintile eating the most. Cultural factors likely play a role in around consumption of eggs during pregnancy, lactation, and early childhood, though most reports are anecdotal in nature and few high-quality data exist. Well-informed social marketing and behaviour change communication strategies have led to large increases in egg consumption among young children. Economic barriers that limit access are likely to be far more important than cultural ones in explaining low consumption.

Keywords: brain development; breast milk; child nutrition; eggs; maternal nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Breast Feeding
  • Diet*
  • Eggs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult