Antibiotic Allergy in Children: More than Just a Label

Elissa Abrams, Elena Netchiporouk, Barbara Miedzybrodzki, Moshe Ben-Shoshan
International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 2019, 180 (2): 103-112
Within the broad category of adverse drug reactions in children, there has been a recent focus specifically on the evaluation of children with antibiotic allergy, in particular, beta-lactam allergy. The potential consequences of being labeled beta-lactam allergy are increasingly recognized. Appropriate evaluation of children with suspected reactions to antibiotics is essential as it is increasingly being recognized that the label of "penicillin allergy" is associated with adverse health and economic outcomes. This review will focus on the 3 main classes of antibiotics reported to cause allergic reactions in children: beta lactams (penicillin derivatives and cephalosporins), macrolides, and sulfonamides. This article is a narrative review of the prevalence, diagnosis, and management of different types of antibiotic allergies in children. Our review reveals that antibiotic allergy is often overreported and not appropriately diagnosed in the pediatric age groups. There is a recent shift in the diagnostic paradigm from the use of skin tests and if negative challenges to the use of challenge only in the pediatric age group. Larger studies to establish the usefulness and safety of this new approach as well as updated guidelines are needed.


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