According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about five million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with a penicillin allergy, most often by their third birthday. However, recent research has uncovered that this label is often overused, and that many children deemed allergic to penicillin actually are not.
About the Research
One study of 500 kids ages four to 18 examined medical records and parent questionnaires about the children’s symptom history. Researchers found that three-quarters of the kids with a penicillin allergy diagnosis had not actually ever had a worrisome reaction to the drug. Follow-up testing of 100 low-risk kids found that none were truly allergic.
Another study conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that 19 out of 20 people who have been told by a physician they have a penicillin allergy actually do not.
The Benefits of Penicillin
There are many benefits to ruling out a penicillin allergy. According to Dr. David Stukus, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, “It’s well-established that people who have a reported penicillin allergy have longer hospital stays, more antibiotic-resistant infections, and just poorer health outcomes in general compared to someone who doesn’t have that allergy listed.”
Penicillin Is Effective
Penicillin is highly effective against some of the most common childhood diseases, killing bacteria such as staphylococci (staph) and streptococci (strep).
Penicillin Narrowly Targets Bacteria
In addition, penicillin narrowly targets bacteria that makes you sick. It is preferable over broad-spectrum drugs, which target a wide array of bacteria, including protective bacteria, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Penicillin Is Cheap
For people without health insurance, a 10-day course of penicillin costs less than $10. It is estimated that if half the children in the U.S. who visited the doctor for an ear infection received penicillin instead of the common alternative, cefdinir, it would save $34 million annually.
For more information about penicillin allergy mis-diagnosis or to schedule a penicillin allergy test, contact the experts at Texas ENT & Allergy.