Propofol use in children with allergies to egg, peanut, soybean or other legumes

Anaesthesia. 2019 Oct;74(10):1252-1259. doi: 10.1111/anae.14693. Epub 2019 May 11.


Propofol is the most commonly administered intravenous agent for anaesthesia in children. However, there are concerns that the emulsified preparation may not be safe in children with an allergy to egg, peanut, soybean or other legumes. We conducted a retrospective study of children with immunologically confirmed egg, peanut, soybean or legume allergy and who underwent general anaesthesia at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children between 2005 and 2015. We extracted details regarding allergy diagnosis, each anaesthetic administered and any adverse events or signs of an allergic reaction in the peri-operative period. A convenience sample of patients without any known food allergies was identified from our prospective anaesthesia research database and acted as a control group. We identified 304 food-allergic children and 649 procedures where propofol was administered. Of these, 201 (66%) had an egg allergy, 226 (74%) had a peanut allergy, 28 (9%) had a soybean allergy and 12 (4%) had a legume allergy. These were compared with 892 allergy-free patients who were exposed to propofol. In 10 (3%) allergy patients and 124 (14%) allergy-free patients, criteria for a possible allergic reaction were met. In nine of the food-allergic children and in all the controls valid non-allergic explanations for the clinical symptoms were found. One likely mild allergic reaction was experienced by a child with a previous history of intralipid allergy. We conclude that genuine serious allergic reaction to propofol is rare and is not reliably predicted by a history of food allergy.

Keywords: allergy; paediatric anaesthesia; propofol; retrospective cohort review.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Emulsions / adverse effects
  • Fabaceae / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Glycine max / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Phospholipids / adverse effects
  • Propofol / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soybean Oil / adverse effects


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Emulsions
  • Phospholipids
  • soybean oil, phospholipid emulsion
  • Soybean Oil
  • Propofol