Penicillin for sickle cell disease (1563)

Key points below

ALERT: Go the Emergency Room immediately if your child gets a fever of 101.5° F (38.6o C) or higher. Do not give Tylenol, Motrin or more penicillin.

What is penicillin?

Penicillin is an antibiotic medicine. It helps stop some bacteria from growing.  It can prevent and treat some bacterial infections. It will not treat a virus. 

Why is it needed?

With sickle cell disease, the spleen gets damaged by the sickled red blood cells. The spleen cannot fight infection like it should.  This puts that person at risk for a serious blood infection called pneumococcal sepsis. This infection can lead to death. Taking penicillin two times every day helps prevent this infection from starting.  Your baby will need to take Penicillin and keep taking it until at least 5 years of age. If your child needs to take Penicillin longer, the sickle cell doctor will talk to you about it.

How should it be given?

Penicillin comes as a liquid or a pill.  It is best to take it without food.  If your child is taking liquid Penicillin, keep it in the refrigerator. Remember, the liquid is only good for 2 weeks.

Allergies and side effects

Allergies to watch for:

If you notice any of these, stop giving penicillin and call your doctor right away.

Side effects can be:

If any of these happen, let the doctor know. It may help to give medicine with food.  



Call the Sickle Cell Clinic if you have any concerns or if your child has special health care needs not covered by this information.

Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM: Sickle Cell Clinic: (414) 266-2420,Ask to talk with a nurse.

After hours, weekends or holidays: call (414) 266-2420.  You will be transferred to the operator if your call is urgent.  Ask for the hematologist on call to be paged.