An Egg A Day Helps Young Children Grow Taller

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According to a six-month study in Ecuador, an egg a day might help undernourished young children grow to a healthy height. Researchers in the journal Pediatrics say It could be a cheap way to prevent stunting

Regardless of whether it’s boiled, fried or scrambled, eggs appeared to give children a boost.

The first 2 years of life are critical for growth and development and any stunting is largely irreversible. Poor nutrition is the biggest cause of stunting, along with childhood infections and illnesses.

The World Health Organization says that 155 million children under the age of five are stunted (too short for their age). Most of these kids live in low- and middle-income countries and health experts have been looking at ways to tackle the issue.

Lora Iannotti and her co-workers set up a field experiment in the rural highlands of Ecuador and gave very young children (aged between six to nine months) free eggs to eat to see if this might help.

Only half of the 160 infants who took part in the randomized trial were fed 1 egg a day for six months – the others were monitored for comparison.

Researchers visited the children’s families every week to ensure they were sticking to the study plan and to check for any problems or side-effects, including egg allergies.

Stunting was far less common among the egg treatment group at the end of the study – the prevalence was 47% less than in the non-egg group. This was even though relatively more of these egg-fed infants were considered short for their age at the start of the study.

Some of the infants in the control group did eat eggs, but nowhere near as many as the treatment group ate.

Researcher Ms Iannotti said: “We were surprised by just how effective this intervention proved to be.

“And what’s great is it’s very affordable and accessible for populations that are especially vulnerable to hidden hunger or nutritional deficiency.”

She noted that eggs were great food for young children with small stomachs.

“Eggs contain a combination of nutrients, which we think is important.”

While eggs may be good, remember these recommendations:

The World Health Organization recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. After the first 6 months, infants should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

The British Nutrition Foundation advises: “While eggs are a nutritious food to include, it’s very important that young children have a variety of foods in their diets. Not only is this necessary to get all the vitamins and minerals they need, but also to allow them to become familiar with a wide range of tastes and textures. 

“A range of protein-rich foods should be provided when feeding young children, which can include eggs but can also feature beans, pulses, fish, especially oily fish, meat and dairy products.” 

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