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Navigating Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Latex Allergies

Latex Allergy Info

latex free

Natural latex from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis is an allergen or irritant to a growing number of people. A latex allergy may develop in persons with significant cumulative latex exposure, such as those in the health care and rubber industries, as well as those undergoing repeated surgeries, especially if they undergo surgeries early in life.1

Ten to 17 percent of health care workers have already become sensitized, and over 2 percent have occupational asthma as a result of latex exposure. Among those who have undergone repeated surgeries, particularly early in life–especially those with myelomeningocele (spina bifida) or urogenital abnormalities–the prevalence of latex allergy may be greater than 60 percent.1

Workers in the latex manufacturing industry are also at risk, with one glove manufacturing plant reporting a 3.7 percent prevalence of occupational asthma caused by latex allergy among its employees.1

Thousands of consumer products contain latex or rubber, and many are found around the home.

Table 1 contains a list of some of the products that may contain latex.1,2

Table 1: Sources of Possible Latex Exposure
Medical Household
  • Gloves
  • Urinary catheters
  • Surgical face masks
  • Tourniquets
  • Adhesive tape
  • Bandages
  • Wound drains
  • Injection ports
  • IV tubing
  • Electrode pads
  • Respirators
  • Rubber syringe stoppers and medication vial stoppers
  • Bulb syringes
  • Mattresses on stretchers
  • Dental devices
  • Stethoscope and blood pressure cuff tubing
  • Ambu bags
  • PCA syringes
  • Balloons
  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Condoms and diaphragms
  • Rubber bands
  • Shoe soles
  • Swim goggles
  • Carpet backing
  • Feeding nipples and pacifiers
  • Clothing, including elastic on underwear
  • Food handled with powdered latex gloves
  • Handles on racquets, tools, bicycles and motorcycles
  • Diapers, sanitary and incontinence pads
  • Computer mouse pads
  • Erasers
  • Toys

Not all latex products are made from natural sources. Products containing man-made (synthetic) latex, such as latex paint,
are unlikely to cause a reaction because they don’t contain the natural substance.2

Latex Allergy and Cross-Reactivity

People allergic to latex may also be allergic to similar proteins found in some food items.
This is called a cross reaction. Certain fruits such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwi fruit, avocado and tomato show cross-reactivity with a latex allergy.1 If you are allergic to latex, you have a greater chance of also being allergic to these foods.2

Many other foods, including figs, apples, celery, melons, potatoes, papayas and pitted fruits, such as cherries and peaches, have caused progressive allergy symptoms beginning with oral itching. Persons with a history of reactions to these foods are at increased risk of developing latex allergy, and those who are sensitive to latex should avoid foods to which they have had previous reactions.1

Citations

1

Reedy S.

Amer Fam Phy. 1998; Jan: 93-101.

Latex Allergy.

2

Mayo Clinic.

Latex Allergy.