Which prophylaxis antibiotic is effective in reducing the incidence of infection in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Penicillin prophylaxis significantly reduces the incidence of infection with encapsulated organisms—in particular, S pneumoniae —and may decrease the mortality rate. Begin at age 2 months with 125 mg bid of penicillin V or G; at 3 years, increase the dose to 250 mg bid. Prophylaxis should continue until age 5 years or the early teens. Recent trials have shown that the susceptibility for septicemia with encapsulated organisms persists well into adulthood, and the benefit of continuing penicillin prophylaxis is now the subject of clinical research. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, erythromycin may be substituted.

As with all long-term medication regimens, maintaining compliance can be difficult. Therefore, remind parents of the importance of prophylaxis at each visit.

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