Antibiotic allergy labels in children are associated with adverse clinical outcomes

Michaela Lucas, Annabelle Arnold, Aine Sommerfield, Michelle Trevenen, Laure Braconnier, Alina Schilling, Fuad Abass, Lliana Slevin, Brittany Knezevic, Christopher Blyth, Kevin Murray, Britta von Ungern-Sternberg, Kristina Rueter

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58 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Self-reported antibiotic allergies are common among hospitalized adults and children. However, there is a paucity of studies investigating the impact of an antibiotic allergy label in childhood. Objective: To investigate the impact of antibiotic allergy labeling on clinical outcomes in children. Methods: A retrospective study was conducted in a major pediatric tertiary hospital to capture inpatient admissions (N = 1672) in April 2014 and April 2015. Data, collected by chart review, included documented antibiotic allergy labels, antibiotic prescriptions, admitting specialty, hospital length of stay, and hospital readmissions. Results: Of the 1672 pediatric patients surveyed, 58.1% were male and 44.8% were prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotic allergy labels were recorded in 5.3% of patients; most were β-lactam allergy labels (85%), mostly to unspecified penicillins. There was an increasing incidence of antibiotic allergy label with age, which was statistically significant (P <.001); no sex effect was seen. Patients with antibiotic allergy labels received more macrolide (P =.045), quinolones (P =.01), lincosamide (P <.001), and metronidazole (P =.009) antibiotics than did patients without an antibiotic allergy label. After adjusting for patient age, sex, principal diagnosis, and admitting specialty, children with any antibiotic or β-lactam allergy label had longer hospital stays (odds ratio, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.05-2.50; P =.03) with a mean length of hospital stay of 3.8 days for those without a label and 5.2 days for those with a β-lactam allergy label. Conclusions: This is the first study demonstrating the negative impact of antibiotic allergy labels on clinical outcomes in children, as evidenced by significant alternate antibiotic use and longer hospital stays. © 2018

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-982
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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