Parents are encouraged to put eggs back on the menu to ensure the healthy development of their babies.
Research conducted at Washington University has shown eggs fed to babies from the age of six months significantly increased growth and reduced stunting by 47 per cent.
While the nutritional benefits of eggs is widely known, this effect on a child’s growth was much greater than expected, said Associate Professor Lora Lannotti, lead author of the study.
“We were surprised by just how effective this intervention proved to be,” Prof Lannotti said.
Stunting occurs as a result of chronic under-nutrition during the most critical periods of growth and development in early life.
According to the World Health Organization, 155 million children under the age of five are stunted, or too short for their age.
Stunting isn’t a big issue in developed countries, including Australia, but eggs should still be included in a babies diet, recommends child nutrition and allergy expert Professor Katie Allen from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI)
“What’s good about eggs is that they’re a high source of protein.
“They also have vitamin D in the egg yolks, that’s very helpful,” said Prof Allen.
As part of a randomised, controlled trial in Ecuador, children aged six-to nine months were randomly assigned to be given one egg every day for six months, versus a control group, which did not receive eggs.
In the children who ate eggs, both their height and weight increased.
Models also indicated a reduced prevalence of stunting by 47 per cent and underweight by 74 per cent.
Allergic reactions to eggs were “carefully” monitored yet no incidents were observed or reported by caregivers.
In fact, delaying the introduction of eggs is considered problematic.
According to research conducted by the MCRI in 2010, children who had a delayed introduction of egg were three to five times more likely to get egg allergy.
“We now recommend for all children in developed countries to introduce egg in the first year of life after solids have commenced,” said Prof Allen.
By six months but not before four months is considered appropriate.
“Eggs are really back on the menu both in the developing world and the developed world, one for good nutrition and the other to help try to prevent food allergies,” said Prof Allen.