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Latex Allergy

Bandolier #7 carried a review of latex allergy. A recent publication [1] reviews the clinical symptoms of latex rubber allergy and provides guidelines for its management.

A big problem

In the four years between 1988 and 1992, about 13 billion latex gloves were used in the USA - about 11 gloves per year per person. In the same period the FDA received reports of more than 1,000 systemic allergic reactions to latex, 15 of which were fatal. The prevalence of latex allergy in health care workers is between 7% and 10%, but is up to 24% in those with atopic allergy.


Some of the key points reported:-
  • All persons at risk from latex allergy should have a careful history taken and should complete a standardised latex questionnaire (given in the paper).
  • High risk patients should be offered clinical testing for latex allergy. This includes children with spina bifida and atopic health care workers.
  • A latex-free environment is defined as one in which there is no latex glove use by any personnel, nor direct contact with other latex devices.
  • Procedures on children with spina bifida should be done in a latex-free environment.
  • Procedures on all patients with positive skin tests results should be done in a latex-free environment.


  1. GL Sussman, DH Beezhold. Allergy to latex rubber. Annals of Internal Medicine 1995 122: 43-6.

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