Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Care in Pregnant Mothers
Penicillin allergies are commonly reported throughout the American population, but yet a small percentage of people are actually allergic to the antibiotic. This can be problematic in pregnant women, who often need antibiotics throughout the course of their pregnancy and after delivery.
The Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Care in Pregnant Mothers Program identifies Yale Medicine obstetrical patients who report a penicillin allergy and asks them if they would like to visit an allergist to be tested, with the goal of clearing unnecessary penicillin allergies from their medical charts.
Penicillin is typically the first antibiotic medication tried for an infection, and if it can’t be used, medical professionals need to try a broader antibiotic, which has increased risks and contributes to antibiotic resistance. And pregnant women who are believed to have penicillin allergies may have higher rates of C-sections and stay longer in the hospital, in addition to other risks.
Therefore, it is key for pregnant women to know if they are actually allergic to penicillin, especially since many people who think they have an allergy either never actually had one or they outgrew it.
For patients in the Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Care in Pregnant Mothers Program who agree to be tested, the procedure they undergo is typically done during the third trimester and involves a tiny needle poke of penicillin under the skin.
If a rash doesn’t appear within 20 minutes, another poke is given. If the skin is still clear after 20 more minutes, the patient receives an oral dose of amoxicillin, a form of penicillin. The woman is carefully monitored in the office. If there is no reaction, she is cleared of the allergy on her medical chart.
The program is led by a board-certified allergy and immunology specialist and a high-risk obstetrician-gynecologist. The physicians work with Ob/Gyns throughout Yale Medicine to educate pregnant women about the importance of allergy testing.