Intrapartum antibiotic exposure for group B Streptococcus treatment did not increase penicillin allergy in children

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Feb;116(2):134-8. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2015.11.013.


Background: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading infectious cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the United States. Intrapartum administration of antibiotics to mothers with positivity to GBS is performed for prevention, with penicillin being the drug of choice. Previous studies have noted an increase in atopic diseases other than drug allergy associated with intrapartum antibiotic exposure.

Objective: To determine whether intrapartum exposure to penicillin for GBS increases the likelihood of penicillin allergy in children.

Methods: Retrospective chart review was performed for patients from a birth cohort. The birth cohort included children born in 2007 at a tertiary care hospital and had local addresses. Information on GBS status of the mother, intrapartum antibiotic exposure, delivery mode, and birth order was collected and analyzed.

Results: Of 927 children identified, 804 were included in the cohort. Eighty children (10%) had a reported penicillin allergy; most were white (79%) and boys (61%). Intrapartum exposure to penicillin (odds ratio 0.84, 95% confidence interval 0.45-1.57, P = .59) or to amoxicillin or ampicillin (odds ratio 0.22, 95% confidence interval 0.01-3.71, P = .29) did not increase the risk of penicillin allergy in children. In addition, all other factors evaluated did not affect the risk of penicillin allergy in children.

Conclusion: To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate intrapartum exposure to penicillin for GBS treatment and subsequent development of penicillin allergy in the child. In contrast to other atopic diseases, intrapartum antibiotic exposure does not alter the risk of penicillin allergy. Parents and obstetricians should be reassured when using penicillin for prevention of neonatal GBS.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Child
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Penicillins / adverse effects*
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Streptococcal Infections / transmission
  • Streptococcus agalactiae


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillins