Everyone wants to make sure they feed their children the best food for optimal nutrition. The trouble is, how do you know?
Claims that a particular veggie is a superfood or a specific diet is the best come and go. One of the more recent suggestions is that feeding eggs to children as young as six months could help with brain development.
from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis studied the issue and found that infants who had been fed eggs from six months of age had higher concentrations of choline and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their blood. They also had biomarkers in choline pathways, all of which points to brain development.
Lora Iannotti is the associate dean for public health and an associate professor at the Brown School. She was the lead author on the study "Eggs Early in Complementary Feeding Increase Choline Pathway Biomarkers and DHA: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Ecuador." The study was published in December 2017. She explained,"Eggs have been consumed throughout human history, but the full potential of this nutritionally complete food has yet to be recognized in many resource-poor settings around the world. Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content." Nutrients that are found in eggs that are also found in other foods, but eggs are often easier to obtain. She explained why eggs are so nutritious, stating, "Eggs provide essential fatty acids, proteins, choline, vitamins A and B12, selenium and other critical nutrients at levels above or comparable to those found in other animal food products, but they are relatively more affordable."
The study was a collaborative effort between Ianotti and colleagues from universities in Texas and Maryland, as well as researchers from Johns Hopkins. The trial was conducted in Ecuador in 2015. Two groups of children aged 6-9 months old participated. Half of the children were given one egg a day to eat; the other half were not given eggs. The study not only produced information about brain development, but another paper on growth in children was published in June of 2017 that also drew data from the trial in Ecuador.
So how do the results show brain development? The two substances found in the children who ate an egg a day were DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that is one of the building blocks of the brain. Without it, there is less brain volume and fewer neurons and synapses. Choline is almost like a vitamin since it supports the development of muscle control as well as learning and memory. Having higher amounts of these compounds indicates that brain growth is ahead of the curve. While it can't be shown that eating an egg every day in infancy will result in smarter children, the fact that eggs are nutrient dense and provide accelerated development of the brain seems like reason enough to add them to a child's diet.