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Advice on eggs for mums and babies

It's time to mobilise those toasted soldiers!  A change in official advice on the safety of eggs for pregnant women and babies means that they can now enjoy their eggs runny, or even raw, as long as they have the British Lion mark on.

Read the good news.

Watch our baby loves eggs video.

Eggs and pregnancy

Is it safe to eat soft cooked or raw eggs during pregnancy?

Yes - the Food Standards Agency has said that British Lion eggs can now be eaten runny or raw by pregnant women.

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods available and can make an important contribution to the diet of pregnant women, helping them to achieve optimal intakes of vitamins and minerals.

Eggs contain specific nutrients which may help support both your health and the development of your baby. These include folate, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, choline and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

Egg safety in pregnancy

At the time of the salmonella and eggs scare in 1988, the Department of Health recommended that recipes for uncooked dishes involving raw eggs should be avoided, and that lightly cooked eggs should not be served to vulnerable groups – i.e. infants, pregnant women, elderly and debilitated people.

This advice, however, pre-dated the introduction of the British Lion scheme in 1998.

Since the British Lion scheme was introduced, these risks have been effectively eliminated from Lion-marked eggs. The Food Standards Agency has recently reviewed its advice and has now confirmed that British Lion eggs can safely be eaten runny, even by pregnant women, babies and elderly people.

Read the full details of the latest FSA advice on runny eggs.

Allergy and pregnancy

Should you avoid certain foods when pregnant?

It was once thought that women should avoid potentially allergenic foods when pregnant, especially if they had a family history of allergic disease.

It is now recognised that avoiding these potentially allergenic foods, for example, peanuts or eggs, is unlikely to increase the risk of allergies to these foods in their babies.

In fact some research has shown that women who eat eggs when pregnant may actually reduce the chances of their baby being allergic to eggs later on.

Therefore, eggs can be consumed as part of a varied and balanced diet that includes a wide range of foods, including vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

See the egg allergy section for further information.

If you are a health professional, you can find out more about egg consumption in pregnancy and infant diets in the Journal of Health Visiting.

Eggs for babies

Eggs are a highly nutritious food that can make an important contribution to the diet of babies, helping them to achieve optimal intakes of vitamins and minerals.

There is lots of advice and tips on feeding eggs to babies, including recipes for all ages, on our sister site egg recipes.

Can my baby eat eggs whilst being weaned?

Eggs should be introduced early on in weaning as they are a good source of protein and contain many different vitamins and minerals.

The Department of Health recommends starting to wean babies on to a solid diet from about six months of age. New foods should be introduced one at a time, in case your baby reacts adversely to a food.

Can I give my baby runny eggs?

The Food Standards Agency has recently confirmed that British Lion eggs can safely be eaten runny, even by pregnant women, babies and elderly people.

Read the full details of the latest FSA advice on runny eggs.

Can my baby develop an egg allergy?

A small number of babies are allergic to eggs, although many will outgrow this allergy in later life.

Emerging research has shown that mothers may actually limit the possibility of their baby having an egg allergy by eating eggs when they are pregnant, and giving them to babies when they are weaning them. It is thought that this early introduction of eggs provides the best chance of creating tolerance - when the immune system accepts the egg without reaction.

Start with a small amount and, if there is no reaction, larger amounts of eggs can be introduced. Delayed introduction may be counter-productive as it is thought that this may be more likely to be associated with subsequent development of allergies.

Breastfeeding

Is it safe to eat eggs while breastfeeding?

Current government advice is to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first 6 months of life if possible[1] and that there is no reason for women who are breastfeeding their babies to avoid eggs or other allergenic foods unless they themselves are allergic to them.[2]

For more detailed information for health professionals, see our page on breastfeeding.

References

1. NHS Choices

2. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/lifestyle-breastfeeding.aspx

Egg infographic