July 28/Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week -- New research suggests that beating childhood egg allergy could literally be a piece of cake.

In a preliminary study, researchers in Greece demonstrated that gradually exposing allergic children to heat-treated egg -- such as those in baked goods -- could help them overcome the allergy.

In the trial, 94 children were regularly given tiny amounts of cake containing egg. Over a period of several months, the quantity of cake was gradually increased. Eighty-seven children (90%) were able to eat the maximum amount without symptoms.

After six months of daily doses of the processed egg, those children were challenged to eat egg that was not cooked to the same degree. More than 95% had no reaction and were believed to have outgrown the allergy.

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

According to the AAAAI, one in 17 children under age 3 suffers from a food allergy. Hen's egg is among the most common allergens for children. While many children with egg allergy outgrow the sensitivity by the time they enter school, until then eliminating all egg from the diet is the only effective management.

This study suggests that deliberate exposure to heat-treated egg may speed that tolerance.

From the August 4, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash