While not as common in the United States, an astounding number of children worldwide suffer from stunted growth; mainly due to malnutrition or disease. It is a serious problem that impacts about 162 million children under the age of 5.
A new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St Louis, suggests that just one egg daily may significantly increase growth and reduce stunting in children.
"Eggs have the potential to contribute to reduced growth stunting around the world. They are also a good source of nutrients for growth and development in young children," said Lora Iannotti, an author and researcher in the Washington University study.
Researchers gave eggs to 80 infants between six and nine months of age for one year. Another 84 weren’t given eggs and served as a control group. Compared to these controls, the egg-eating youngsters had a 47 percent lower prevalence of stunting, which is defined as being too short for one’s age. Their length-for-age measurement also shot up by a significant margin.
Why would a daily egg have such a dramatic effect? Eggs are often referred to as “the perfect food.” They contain all of the necessary amino acids, as well as choline, various growth factors and DHA, a polyunsaturated fatty acid important for the brain. All of these are necessary for proper growth and development, and the normal function of the body.
There has been some concern in the past, that eggs may raise an infant’s cholesterol level or induce an allergic reaction. However, research has not shown these hypotheses not to be true. The food appears to be safe and healthy for infants, says Iannotti.
Eggs are easily available for parents and affordable as a food option. Lots of families are even experimenting with raising chickens for their eggs in communities across the country.
Iannotti believes this study shows that just one egg a day could have a dramatic impact, globally, on the number of children suffering from stunted growth.
The study was published in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics.
Story sources: Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters, http://www.newsweek.com/one-egg-day-boosts-growth-infants-621266