Potential of Egg as Complementary Food to Improve Nutrient Intake and Dietary Diversity
The original aim was to determine the effect of egg consumption on infant growth in a low socioeconomic community in South Africa in a randomized controlled trial. Enrolment was, however, prematurely stopped due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations. The resultant small sample (egg group n = 70; control group n = 85) was followed up to assess the feasibility of egg consumption for eight months in terms of dietary intake, egg usage and perceived effects of lockdown on child feeding. Egg consumption remained low in the control group, <10% consumed egg ≥4 days/week at the follow-up points. In the egg group, egg was frequently consumed at midpoint (daily 87.1%, 4-6 days 8.1%) and endpoint (daily 53.1%, 4-6 days 21.9%).
At endpoint, dietary intake of cholesterol and vitamin D was higher, and intake of niacin and vitamin B6 lower in the egg group compared to the control group. Dietary diversity was low, 36.2% of the egg group and 18.9% of the control group (p < 0.05) achieved minimum dietary diversity at endpoint. No babies developed egg allergy or sensitization, and adjusted regression analysis showed that frequency of egg intake was not related with the incidence or duration of allergy-related symptoms. This study showed that frequent egg consumption can contribute safely to complementary food for babies, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: dietary diversity; dietary intake; egg allergy; egg consumption; infants.