Whether soft or hard-boiled, fried or whisked into an omelette, eggs appear to give infants a boost.
An egg a day might help undernourished young children grow to a healthy height. Consumption of eggs in infants is also a cheap way of preventing stunt growth.
The first two years of life are critical for growth and development – any stunting is largely irreversible.
Too short for age
Poor nutrition is a major cause of stunting, along with childhood infections and illnesses.
According to the World Health Organization, 155 million children under the age of five are stunted (too short for their age).
Most live in low- and middle-income countries and health experts have been looking at ways to tackle the issue.
According to research conducted by Lora Iannotti and her colleagues in the rural highlands of Ecuador for young children (aged six to nine months), stunting was far less common among the egg treatment group by the end of the study – the prevalence was 47% less than in the non-egg group, even though relatively more of these egg-fed infants were considered short for their age at the start of the study.
Some of the children in the control group did eat eggs, but nowhere near as many as the treatment group.
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 said eggs were great food for young children with small stomachs.
“Eggs contain a combination of nutrients, which we think is important.”
The WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After the first six months, infants should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.
The British Nutrition Foundation advised: “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.”
Credit – BBC