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J Cyst Fibros. 2007 Jul;6(4):297-303. Epub 2006 Dec 19.

Beta-lactam allergy in adults with cystic fibrosis.

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Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, Rode Road, Chermside, Brisbane 4032, Australia.



Allergic reactions to one or more beta-lactam antibiotic can pose a management problem in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), and may limit antibiotic choice.


The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of allergy to anti-pseudomonal beta-lactam antibiotics in an adult CF centre and to assess variables, which may contribute to the development of allergic reactions. A questionnaire-based interview and a review of medical records were performed.


Of the 150 patients, 54 (36%) had allergic reactions to one or more beta-lactam antibiotics and 20 (19%) had allergic reactions to multiple beta-lactam antibiotics. The proportion of patients allergic to specific beta-lactam antibiotics varied from 10% to 26%. Rates of reactions were highest for penicillins and cephalosporins, intermediate for carbepenems and lowest for aztreonam. Of all reactions, 40% occurred within 24 h of the commencement of an individual antibiotic course. Patients with one or more beta-lactam allergic reactions had received greater cumulative exposure (p<0.0001), were older (p=0.016) and had lower lung function (p=0.037) than patients without a history of beta-lactam allergy. Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) status, gender, peripheral blood eosinophil count and total IgE concentrations were not different in patients with allergic reactions.


This study demonstrates that the prevalence of allergic reactions to beta-lactam antibiotics is high in adults with CF. Increasing age; cumulative exposure and decreasing FEV(1) were associated with the development of allergy.

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