Latex allergy is an increasingly common condition, in both children and health care workers who provide care for them. Subpopulations at particular risk include children with spina bifida, children undergoing multiple surgical procedures, and health care workers in the operating theatre. Chemical additives in latex gloves can cause an irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. Latex proteins are responsible for most of the immediate IgE-mediated hypersensitivity allergic reactions. Symptoms range from rhinitis, conjunctivitis and urticaria to anaphylaxis and death. A latex-directed history is the primary method of identifying latex sensitivity, although both skin and serum testing is available and increasingly accurate. (Latex avoidance should be used in all individuals with a positive skin or blood test or a positive history). The most important preventive measure for patients with or at risk for latex allergy is minimizing direct patient exposure to latex products, most notably latex gloves. Recent operating room studies indicate simple preventive measures can dramatically reduce intraoperative reactions. Preoperative prophylaxis with antihistamines and steroids have not been shown to be necessary or effective. Treatment of an allergic reaction begins with immediate removal of any identified source of latex in direct patient contact. Treatment is similar to anaphylaxis from other causes, and may require the use of epinephrine. Everyone caring for the patient at risk for latex allergy must be involved in making their medical environment safe. (Indian J Pediatr 1999; 66 : 717-724).
- Latex allergy
- Pediatric anesthesia
- Spina bifida
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health