Everyone knows that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a new study suggests that eggs are also beneficial when it comes to infant growth and development.
Researchers from Washington University, led by Associate Professor Lora Lannotti, performed a controlled trial on children from 6 to 9 months old and found that adding one egg in the child's diet visibly improved their health.
According to the study, which was implemented in Ecuador for 6 months, introducing one small or medium sized egg to a child's diet reduced stunting by 47 percent and curbed malnutrition by 74 percent.
Controlled Trial Results
Parents and guardians of the egg diet group did not report any allergic reactions stemming from the egg diet and infants showed visible increase in height and weight. The most number of reactions reported by caregivers was diarrhea, but no adverse health concerns were conveyed.
From the initial 37 percent of children in the egg group that were considered to experience stunted growth, the number went down to 21 percent after the strictly controlled egg diet. This is a huge improvement, especially when compared to the non-egg group whose percentage of stunted children went up from 26 to 29 percent by the end of the study.
"We were surprised by just how effective this intervention proved to be," Professor Lannotti said.
Another bonus is that 29 percent of children under the egg diet ate fewer sweets than their peers.
Choosing Trial Participants And Ensuring Consistency
To determine whether the hypothesis is correct, the researchers performed a randomized controlled trial on 163 children from March to December 2015. Of the 163 parent-child participants, 83 were assigned to the daily egg diet while the remaining 80 received no intervention.
The research team chose healthy babies without known egg allergies and heart defects to participate in the trial and monitored each child's height and weight throughout the study. In order to ensure that the diet would be followed without fail, the researchers also made weekly egg distribution and health monitoring visits to the egg diet group.
Parents and guardians also carefully observed the children and reported any reactions to the diet. By the end of the study period, the researchers were amazed at the confirmation of their hypothesis.
Child nutrition experts agree with the research team's findings and strongly recommend the introduction of egg in the diet of infants.
"We now recommend for all children in developed countries to introduce egg in the first year of life after solids have commenced," Professor Katie Allen said. Prof Allen is a child nutrition and allergy expert from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.