Here are some things you can do to avoid an allergic reaction, and to keep it from getting worse if one does occur.

  • Read food labels carefully. Some people react to foods with only trace amounts of egg.
  • Be cautious when eating out. Your server or even the cook may not be completely certain about whether a food contains egg proteins.
  • Wear an allergy bracelet or necklace. This can be especially important if you or your child has a severe reaction and can't tell caregivers or others what's going on.
  • Let your child's caregivers know about an egg allergy. Talk to your child's babysitters, teachers, relatives or other caregivers about the egg allergy so that they don't accidently give your child egg-containing products. Make sure they understand what to do in an emergency.
  • If you're breast-feeding, avoid eggs. If your child has an egg allergy, he or she may react to proteins passed through your milk.

Hidden sources of egg products

Unfortunately, even if a food is labeled egg-free it may still contain some egg proteins. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Foods that contain eggs can include:

  • Marshmallows
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Baked goods
  • Breaded foods
  • Marzipan
  • Frostings
  • Processed meat, meatloaf and meatballs
  • Puddings and custards
  • Salad dressing
  • Many pastas
  • Foam on alcoholic, specialty coffees
  • Pretzels

Several terms indicate that egg products have been used in manufacturing processed foods, including:

  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Lecithin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Vitellin
  • Words starting with "ova" or "ovo," such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin

Another potential source of exposure is cross-contamination in home-prepared dishes or meals, especially when you're eating in other people's homes where they may not be aware of the risk.

Vaccinations and egg allergy

Some shots to prevent illness (vaccines) contain egg proteins. In some people, these vaccines pose a risk of triggering an allergic reaction.

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines are generally safe for children with egg allergy, even though eggs are used to produce them.
  • Flu (influenza) vaccines sometimes contain small amounts of egg proteins. However, a flu vaccine that doesn't contain these proteins is approved for use in adults age 18 and older. And even vaccines that do have egg proteins can be given safely to most people with egg allergy without any problems. If you or your child has had a reaction to eggs in the past, talk to your doctor before getting a flu vaccination.
  • Yellow fever vaccine can provoke an allergic reaction in some people who have egg allergy. It's given to travelers entering countries where there's a risk of contracting yellow fever. It's not generally recommended for people with egg allergy, but is sometimes given under medical supervision after testing for a reaction.
  • Other vaccines are generally not risky for people who have egg allergy. But ask your doctor, just to be safe. If your doctor is concerned about a vaccine, he or she may test you or your child to see whether it is likely to cause a reaction.
Jan. 27, 2015

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