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Penicillin skin testing in the management of penicillin allergy in an outpatient pediatric population

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Eight to ten percent of patients believe that they are allergic to penicillin, yet only 10% of those patients have evidence of an immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated allergy upon penicillin skin testing (PST). In the adult population, a negative PST result is associated with a low risk of immediate reaction on oral challenge, but further studies are needed in the pediatric population.


To calculate the negative predictive value (NPV) of the current skin testing regimen of penicillin, benzylpenicilloyl-polylysine (the major determinant), and ampicillin in a pediatric outpatient population to assess the utility of adding the minor determinant mixture to the skin testing regimen.


A retrospective chart review was conducted of all pediatric patients seen in a single-center pediatric allergy/immunology outpatient clinic between January 1, 2010, and March 1, 2016, who underwent PST for presumed penicillin drug allergy.


Only 38% of patients who underwent PST had a drug reaction history consistent with an IgE-mediated reaction. 28.8% of the patients had a positive PST result. The addition of ampicillin to the standard PST regimen of penicillin and benzylpenicilloyl-polylysine identified an additional 4.1% of patients. Two patients (3.2%) reacted on oral challenge with a minor rash. The NPV of the PST regimen was 98%. No significant predictive variables for a positive PST result were identified.


Given the high NPV of the current PST regimen, we do not recommend additional testing with the minor determinant mixture. Despite this high NPV, the utility of PST in the low-risk, low-pretest probability outpatient pediatric population was limited, and select patients may be able to proceed directly to oral challenge.
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Keywords: Drug allergy; IgE reaction; aminopenicillin; drug reaction; major determinants; minor determinants; pediatric; penicillin allergy; penicillin reaction; penicillin skin testing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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