According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about five million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with a penicillin allergy, most before their third birthday. However, recent studies have shown that many people who have been deemed allergic to penicillin have never had a serious reaction, and likely never will.
About the Research
One 2017 study published in the journal Pediatrics tested 500 kids ages 4 to 18, all of whom had been diagnosed with a penicillin allergy. Medical records and parent questionnaires about symptom histories revealed that three-quarters of participants had never had a worrisome reaction, and follow-up testing of 100 low-risk kids revealed none were truly allergic to penicillin.
Another review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that 19 out of 20 people who have been told they have a penicillin allergy test negative for it later in life.
The Benefits of Penicillin
According to Dr. David Stukus, associate professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, penicillin is cheaper, safer and more effective than many alternatives, and getting tested to rule out an incorrect allergy diagnosis can have lifelong benefits.
“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,” he explained.
Penicillin Is Effective Against Common Childhood Infections
Penicillin is commonly prescribed because it is effective against bacteria that causes common diseases, like staphylococci staphylococci (staph) and streptococci (strep).
“Penicillin is a really important antibiotic for common childhood infections — for everything from ear infections to strep throat to pneumonia,” said Dr. Allison Norton, assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Penicillin Narrowly Targets Bacteria
Overuse of antibiotics causes resistance to the drugs. But since penicillin narrowly targets the bacteria making you sick, it is preferable to alternative broad-spectrum drugs, which target a wide array of bacteria, including protective bacteria.
Penicillin Is Inexpensive
For people without insurance, a 10-day course of liquid amoxicillin costs under $10. If half the children in the U.S. were prescribed amoxicillin instead of a common alternative for their ear infections, it would save $34 million annually. For more information or to schedule a penicillin allergy test for your child, call the experts at ENT of Athens today.