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THE FIGHT AGAINST LATEX ALLERGIES

Natural rubber latex allergies continue to pose a risk in hospitals even though healthcare worker glove allergy incidences have decreased since the introduction of powder-free surgical gloves. Latex Type I allergy-related events resulting from the use of natural rubber latex gloves can be avoided for both healthcare workers and patients by moving to non-latex surgical gloves. This move will help minimize the risk of adverse events cause by exposure to latex gloves, such as anaphylactic responses, and the development of sensitization to latex proteins.

The incidence of latex sensitization among healthcare workers rates vary between 10 - 17%.(1,2) These rates go up even higher with some surgical populations, such as pediatrics, where 50 - 55%(1,3,4) of children who have multiple surgeries or with spina bifida face the risk of latex sensitization.

Sensitized healthcare workers have higher risks of becoming allergic if they continue to use, or be exposed to latex. It is important to understand that some sensitized individuals may not present clinical signs or be aware of their sensitized state and are at risk of developing clinical allergic symptoms.

Ansell's new generation non-latex gloves include the same options as latex gloves, including orthopaedic, micro-surgery and moisturizing gloves. They also come in a range of neoprene and polyisoprene (PI) materials featuring the allergy protection you need and deliver the same, and in some cases even better, performance attributes and comfort surgical staff demand.


A MOVE FOR THE BETTER

Despite the clinical evidence supporting the benefits of a latex-free environment to primary prevention, some hospitals have opted to provide non-latex surgical gloves only to healthcare workers or patients with a known latex allergy, rather than completely switching the entire hospital. This selective approach fails to avoid unexpected reactions by people not aware of their latex allergy. Hospitals who have made the complete switch to non-latex gloves are choosing to offer a safer hospital environment. Such a move helps the hospital reduce the loss of time and productivity of staff; and, eliminate the diagnostic and treatment costs of a patient or healthcare worker who may develop a clinical allergic response.

  • The resistance to change by healthcare workers is to be expected but this is outweighed by the benefits of primary prevention to latex allergies. The latex sensitization levels for children with spina bifida from birth decreased from 55% in patients where latex was used to 5% for patients where only non-latex gloves were used.(4)
  • Latex allergy was responsible for 17% of perioperative allergic accidents in France in 1999. Following two adverse events, one of them fatal, and a non-latex conversion in 2002, no latex anaphylaxis were recorded in the five years after implementation with more than 25,000 surgical procedures performed.(1)
  • The USA Mayo Clinic reports healthcare worker latex allergy cases dropped from 150 per 100,000 healthcare workers to 27 per 100,000 after the implementation of non-latex gloves in 1993.(5)
  • Latex-specific immunoglobulin (IgE) decreased in 88% of sensitized individuals when exposed to non-latex materials.(6)
  • The development of a latex allergy can have a severe impact on one's quality of life.(7)
  • Developing a latex allergy may result in a need to change professions for a significant proportion of healthcare workers affected.(8)

REFERENCES
1. De Queiroz M, Combet S, Berard J, Pouyau A, Genest H, Mouriquand P, Chassard D. Latex allergy in children: modalities and prevention. Paediatric Anaesthesia 2009; 19: 313-319
2. Brehler R and Kütting B. Natural rubber latex allergy.Archives of Internal Medicine 2001; 161: 1057-1064
3. Capelli, Chloé Eviction Du Latex En Chirurgie Pediatrique: Etude de Faisabilite Au CHU de Grenoble. MS thesis. Universite Joseph Fourrier. Faculte De Pharmacie De Grenoble. France. 2011. Print
4. .Blumchen et al., Effects Of Latex Avoidance On Latex Sensitization, Atopy And Allergic Diseases In Patients With Spina Bifida. Allergy 65 (2010): 1585-159
5. Hunt LW, Kelkar P and Reed CE. "Management of Occupational Allergy to Natural Rubber Latex in a Medical Center: The Importance of Quantitative Latex Allergen Measurement and Objective Follow-up." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 110 suppl 2 (2002): S96 - S106
6. Hamilton R, Brown R. 2000. Impact of personal avoidance practices on health care workers sensitized to natural rubber latex. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 839-841.
7.Lewis, V.J, Chowdhury MMU, Statham, BM. Natural rubber latex allergy: the impact on lifestyle and quality of life. Contact Dermatitis (2004); vol 51 (issue 5-6): 317–318.
8. Al-Otaibi S, Tarlo SM, House R. Quality of life in patients with latex allergy. Occup Med (Lond) 2005;55:88–92.


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