Purpose of the Study. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in their evidence-based guidelines for treatment of otitis media and sinusitis, endorse the use of cephalosporin antibiotics for patients with reported allergies to penicillin. Many physicians, however, remain reluctant to prescribe such agents. This article reviews evidence in support of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for administration of cephalosporins to penicillin-allergic children.
Study Population and Methods. The author reviewed data from published studies related to penicillin and cephalosporin allergies in children and adults and in animal models.
Results. Included in this review is an examination of the types and incidence of reactions to penicillins and cephalosporins, the frequency of cross-reactivity between these 2 groups of agents, and a thorough discussion of the clinical guidelines related to penicillin and cephalosporin allergy. Experimental and clinical studies that suggest that side chain–specific antibodies predominate in the immune response to cephalosporins, thereby explaining the lack of cross-sensitivity between most cephalosporins and penicillins. Specific recommendations for the treatment of patients on the basis of their responses to previously prescribed agents are summarized.
Conclusions. The author concludes that there is a low but measurable (0.5%) attributable risk associated with administration of a first-generation or selected second-generation cephalosporin to a patient with penicillin allergy. This increased risk is not present for third- or fourth-generation cephalosporins or for second-generation molecules with non–cross-reactive side chains.
Reviewer Comments. This is a very careful, comprehensive, and clinically useful review article. I recommend this article to physicians who would like to understand the evidence base and immunologic concepts underlying the use of cephalosporins in penicillin-allergic individuals.
- Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics