American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting
November 10, 2019
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Women may be more likely to have penicillin allergy

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HOUSTON — Women were more likely to have positive penicillin skin test results than men, according to findings presented at the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology Scientific Meeting.

Dayne Voelker, MD, of the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, explained during a presentation that previous studies have shown that women are more likely to have asthma and anaphylaxis, and that “women are at increased risk for adverse drug reactions, and we wanted to know specifically if that was the case in penicillin as well.”

To determine if women were more likely to have penicillin allergy, researchers conducted a retrospective review of patients with a history of penicillin allergy who underwent penicillin skin testing using electronic medical records from January 2001 to December 2007.

A total of 30,883 patients who underwent penicillin skin testing were identified. Of those, 329 (1%) patients had positive results for penicillin allergy using a 3x3 wheal. Within the cohort, women were more than four times more likely than men to test positive on the 3x3 wheal for penicillin allergy, with 298 (91%) of positive results belonging to women (OR = 4.32; 95% CI, 2.98-6.26).

Doctor with patient 
Women were more likely to have positive penicillin skin test results than men, according to findings presented at the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology Scientific Meeting.
Source: Adobe Stock

When tested with a 5x5 wheal, 170 patients (0.5%) had positive results. Of those, 122 (72%) were women (OR = 1.14; 95% CI, 0.82-1.60).

“Both in the 3x3 and the 5x5, it’s more likely for women to be positive than their male counterparts,” Voelker said during the presentation.

Voelker said that further studies are needed to if there are “biomarkers, or any predictive tools that we can assess of why women are more prone and more likely to be allergic [to penicillin].”

He noted that while physicians do not necessarily need to screen women more for penicillin allergy, they should be aware that women referred to them for penicillin allergy are more likely to have true IgE sensitivity to penicillin. – by Erin Michael

Reference:

Voelker D, et al. P001. Presented at: American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology Scientific Meeting; Nov. 7-11, 2019; Houston.

Disclosures: Voelker reports no relevant financial disclosures.