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The role of egg consumption in the first 1001 days of life: a narrative review

02 May 2024
Volume 32 · Issue 5



Eggs are a natural whole food providing an important array of nutrients that can be challenging to find in other everyday foods. Although evidence shows the benefits of egg consumption for mother and child, consumption rates remain low. The aim of this article was to review latest literature and guidance on egg consumption and examine barriers to consumption during the critical first 1001 days of life.


This narrative review included an electronic search of PubMed, Google Scholar and Clinical Trials.Gov. Human studies published in English between 2019 and 2024 were screened for eligibility.


Overall, 14 key studies were included that were specific to egg intake/consumption during pregnancy, breastfeeding and/or infancy/early childhood. Six sets of relevant dietary guidelines were identified and reviewed.


Current egg consumption is low, despite previous concerns about food safety and allergy having been overturned in official advice. Including eggs in the diet is an easy and cost-effective way to improve diversity and digestibility of nutrients when dietary requirements are higher. Their consumption has the potential to bridge nutrient gaps, help prevent allergy, augment breast milk composition and contribute to child development and growth.

Eggs are an important basic ‘whole food’ (food that has been processed or refined as minimally as possible) because of their array of nutrients and bioactive compounds and high digestibility (Réhault-Godbert et al, 2019). It has been reported that ultra-processed foods can form as much as 17% of the total diet in pregnancy (Puig-Vallverdú et al, 2022). This, in turn, has been linked to less favourable maternal and infant outcomes, possibly as a result of reduced diet quality (Ben-Avraham et al, 2023). Nutrition is exceptionally important during pregnancy, when breastfeeding and in infancy as the dynamic physiological changes that take place are vast and generally not experienced in any other healthy life stage (Derbyshire, 2011; Shaw and Liu, 2023).

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are some of the most physiologically and nutritionally taxing life stages, where requirements for all nutrients rise and nutritional status can impact a mother's health and a child's development (Albracht-Schulte, 2023). Egg protein is a highly digestible and important provider of essential amino acids and is considered a ‘complete protein’ (Caffarelli et al, 2022; Puglisi and Fernandez, 2022). Eggs are one of the few foods that deliver >20% of the daily value of protein per 100g or per 100kcal (Drewnowski, 2021). Egg yolk provides vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12 and D, and egg white provides vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12 (Réhault-Godbert et al, 2019). Eggs naturally contain vitamin B12 (cobalamin), which is generally not present in plant foods (Obeid et al, 2019). Eggs also provide important minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and manganese (Réhault-Godbert et al, 2019).

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