Safety of ceftriaxone in paediatrics: a systematic review

Arch Dis Child. 2020 Oct;105(10):981-985. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2019-317950. Epub 2020 Mar 6.


Objective: To determine the safety of ceftriaxone in paediatric patients and systematically evaluate the categories and incidences of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) of ceftriaxone in paediatric patients.

Methods: We performed a systematic search in Medline, PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, CINAHL, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts and bibliographies of relevant articles up to December 2018 for all types of studies that assessed the safety of ceftriaxone in paediatric patients aged ≤18 years.

Results: 112 studies met the inclusion criteria involving 5717 paediatric patients who received ceftriaxone and reported 1136 ADRs. The most frequent ADRs reported in prospective studies were gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (37.4 %, 292/780), followed by hepatobiliary disorders (24.6%, 192/780). Serious ADRs leading to withdrawal or discontinuation of ceftriaxone were reported in 86 paediatric patients. Immune haemolytic anaemia (34.9%, 30/86) and biliary pseudolithiasis (26.7%, 23/86) were the two major causes. Haemolytic anaemia following intravenous ceftriaxone led to death in 11 children whose primary disease was sickle cell disease. Almost all biliary pseudolithiasis are reversible. However, the incidence was high affecting one in five paediatric patients (20.7%).

Conclusions: GI ADRs are the most common toxicity of ceftriaxone in paediatric patients. Immune haemolytic anaemia and biliary pseudolithiasis are the most serious ADRs and the major reasons for discontinuation of ceftriaxone. Immune haemolytic anaemia is more likely in children with sickle cell disease and may cause death. Ceftriaxone should be used with caution in children with sickle cell disease.

Trial registration number: CRD42017055428.

Keywords: evidence based medicine; infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic / chemically induced
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Ceftriaxone / adverse effects*
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Digestive System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Exanthema / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Nephrolithiasis / chemically induced
  • Pediatrics
  • Thrombocytosis / chemically induced
  • Ureteral Calculi / chemically induced
  • Urination Disorders / chemically induced


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ceftriaxone