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The role of skin testing and extended antibiotic courses in assessment of children with penicillin allergy: An Australian experience

Arnold, A., Sommerfield, A., Ramgolam, A., Rueter, K., Muthusamy, S., Noble, V., von Ungern-Sternberg, B.S. and Lucas, M. (2018) The role of skin testing and extended antibiotic courses in assessment of children with penicillin allergy: An Australian experience. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 55 (4). pp. 428-432.

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To determine if skin testing (ST) in addition to extended oral provocation challenge (OPC) is necessary for beta‐lactam allergy verification in an Australian paediatric population.


This was a retrospective study (176 children) that undertook assessments for beta‐lactam allergy from 2006 to 2015 at a tertiary paediatric hospital. Patients either underwent direct OPC without ST or ST plus challenge if ST was negative.


The analysis included children with a history of varying rash types/severity as well as angioedema and reported anaphylaxis. A direct OPC was undertaken in 73 children. Three children reacted with one anaphylaxis. A total of 103 children underwent ST, with 13 children (12.6%) reacting. Of the 90 who subsequently proceeded to OPC, 4 reacted. A total of 132 children were given an extended oral course of the culprit antibiotic, to which 6 children reacted.


A direct OPC with the culprit drug in Australian children can be safely performed, avoiding resource‐intensive and painful ST. Our data demonstrate that a prior history of anaphylaxis does not necessarily predict IgE‐mediated allergy, as detected by positive immediate ST or reactions to oral challenge. Such history should not detract from efforts to assess these children for antibiotic allergy. We suggest that extended courses of at least 5 days are important in paediatric antibiotic de‐labelling as six children (4.5% of those who were prescribed the extended course) reacted in our study and even developed symptoms late in the extended course, from days 2 to 6.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2018 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
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