Drug allergy claims in children: from self-reporting to confirmed diagnosis

Clin Exp Allergy. 2008 Jan;38(1):191-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2007.02870.x. Epub 2007 Nov 19.


Background: Poorly documented self-reported drug allergy (DAll) is a frequent problem in daily clinical practice and has a considerable impact on prescription choices. The diagnostic work-up of drug hypersensitivity (DHs) allows a better classification of the reactions and provides patients with more reliable information and recommendations for future treatments.

Objective: To assess the prevalence of self-reported adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and DAll in a paediatric population and to investigate children reporting suspected DAll in order to achieve a firm diagnosis.

Design: The first phase was based on a cross-sectional survey assessing the life occurrence of ADRs and self-reported DAll carried out at the outpatient clinic of a paediatric hospital. The second phase was based on the diagnostic work-up in children with parent-reported DAll, including detailed anamnesis and in vitro and in vivo investigations (skin and provocation tests). Participants One thousand four hundred and twenty-six parents responded to the initial survey. Sixty of the 67 patients with reported DAll were evaluated at the allergy clinic.

Results: The prevalences of self-reported ADRs and DAll were 10.2% and 6.0%, respectively. Most of the suspected allergic reactions were non-immediate cutaneous events attributable to beta-lactam antibiotics and occurred in very young children. Thirty-nine of the 60 patients consulting for evaluation had a plausible clinical history and were recommended further investigation. DHs was diagnosed in three children only, based on positive responses in skin (n=1) and oral provocation (n=2) tests.

Conclusion: ADRs are frequently reported in children, and many children are classified as having a DAll. After complete evaluation, only a few of these reactions can be attributed to DHs and DAll. Most of the patients (94% in this study) could actually tolerate the initially suspected drug.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*