Causes and risk factors: Egg allergy

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Causes

An immune system overreaction causes food allergies. For egg allergy, the immune system mistakenly identifies certain egg proteins as harmful. When you or your child comes in contact with egg proteins, immune system cells (antibodies) recognize them and signal the immune system to release histamine and other chemicals that cause allergic signs and symptoms.

Both egg yolks and egg whites contain proteins that can cause allergies, but allergy to egg whites is most common. It’s possible for breast-fed infants to have an allergic reaction to egg proteins in breast milk if the mother consumes eggs.

Risk factors

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing egg allergy:

Atopic dermatitis. Children with this type of skin reaction are much more likely to develop a food allergy than are children who don’t have skin problems.

Family history. You’re at increased risk of a food allergy if one or both of your parents have asthma, food allergy or another type of allergy such as hay fever, hives or eczema.

Age. Egg allergy is most common in children. With age, the digestive system matures and allergic food reactions are less likely to occur.