Peanut allergies only account for a fraction of all food allergies. In fact, the most common food allergies are actually egg and dairy (cow’s milk). After a number of previous studies like HEAP, STEP, EAT, BEAT, STAR had mixed results regarding the prevention of egg allergies, the PETIT Study aimed to understand how and when to introduce eggs to babies to avoid allergies.
Two-Step Egg Introduction for the Prevention of Egg Allergy in High Risk Infants with Eczema (PETIT)
One of the most confusing things from the studies before the PETIT Study was that many babies, especially those with eczema, seemed to react to uncooked eggs while they could tolerate baked eggs.
So the PETIT Study asked, “what if we tried to prevent egg allergies by always starting with baked eggs?”
This is what researchers meant by “two-step egg introduction.” Start with baked eggs first, then switch to cooked eggs.
How did the PETIT Study work?
Researchers in Japan recruited babies 4-5 months old with eczema, which meant they were high-risk for food allergies. Babies with a history of allergic reactions to any foods were excluded. The babies were randomly assigned to either start eating baked eggs, or to eat a placebo (something that looked like egg but was not). The reason they used a placebo was so that parents wouldn't bias the results by imagining an allergy when there wasn’t one.
Babies in the egg group ate heated egg powder every day from 6 months to 9 months of age and then increased the amount from 9 to 12 months of age. They then tested all babies for an egg allergy at 12 months old using the gold-standard:oral food challenge.
PETIT Study Results
Unlike the previous egg allergy studies, babies did not react to the baked egg. Starting with baked egg was determined to be 15 times safer for babies than introducing raw or lightly cooked (scrambled / fried) egg. Once babies spent a couple months eating baked egg, they were able to safely transition to cooked egg around 10 months old.
The PETIT study was so effective at preventing egg allergy that the study had to be stopped early. Doctors decided that it was not ethical to continue having babies avoid baked eggs, because this would dramatically increase their risk of developing an egg allergy.
PETIT Study results. Babies who ate a placebo (fake egg) were 6-10x more likely to develop an egg allergy than babies who ate baked egg and then regular egg.
What does this mean for new parents?
Given that egg allergies are increasingly common, and nearly 30% of babies have some level of eczema, starting baked egg introduction early is critical to reducing the risk of developing an egg allergy.
We know that baking eggs properly every day and then grinding them up into baby food is not possible for most families. That’s why we made our Lil Mixins Baked Egg Mixin. It is made with baked eggs, and is fully prepared and ready to be mixed into any baby food. Our jar provides your baby with 4 months worth of servings, at which point your baby can transition to scrambled eggs.