How does early egg consumption affect infants? A recent study, published in the journal Nutrients, examined egg consumption and associations with nutrient intakes, markers of growth and weight-related measures in infants 6-24 months of age compared to infants who did not eat eggs.
Egg consumers were defined as those infants who ate eggs (excluding mixed dishes) during a 24-hour dietary recall. Associations with nutrient intakes and markers of growth variables were evaluated using data from What We Eat in America, the dietary component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2001-2012. This is the first study to assess current egg consumption and contributions to nutrient intake in infants using NHANES data.
The research found that egg consumption in infants was associated with longer recumbent length when compared to non-consumers of eggs. However, no associations were observed when comparing body weight.
Consumption of eggs in these infants was also linked with several nutrient intakes, including higher protein, lutein + zeaxanthin, choline, B12, selenium and phosphorus; and lower added and total sugars relative to non-consumers. In addition, egg-eaters had higher intake of total fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and sodium. It should also be noted that egg consumption was associated with lower whole fruit consumption, lower dietary folate, iron, magnesium and niacin relative to non-consumers of eggs.
This shows that eggs served as a complimentary food for infants 6-24 months of age can help improve intakes of several important nutrients necessary for growth and development. However, educational strategies are necessary to encourage intake of other nutrients, like iron and folate, and food groups such as fruit.
Currently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provides recommendations for those who are two years and older, with no guidance for infants and toddlers under two years of age. The 2020-2025 DGA hopes to establish dietary guidance for this age group, but there were no studies examining diet quality, growth markers, and nutrient intakes between infants who eat eggs versus those who do not. The goal of this analysis was to examine these associations and make comparisons between infant egg-eaters and non-consumers of eggs.
Interested in more information about nutrition in the first 1,000 days space? Read “Choline During Pregnancy Improves Infant Cognition” and “Help Prevent Birth Defects.”
Reference: Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Egg Consumption in Infants is Associated with Longer Recumbent Length and Greater Intake of Several Nutrients Essential in Growth and Development. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 4;10(6). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29867006