Author(s): De Queiroz M, Combet S, Brard J, Pouyau A, Genest H
Allergic or immediate hypersensitivity reactions to latex have been reported in children with increasing frequency in the past. The reported prevalence varies greatly depending upon the population studied and the methods used to detect sensitization. Children's subpopulations at particular risk include: atopics, individuals with spina bifida, children undergoing surgical procedure during the neonatal period and individuals who required frequent surgical instrumentations. Latex allergy is also an important medical issue, particularly for healthcare personnel. Sensitization mainly occurs by wound or mucosal contact with latex devices during surgery or by inhalation of airborne allergens released from powdered latex gloves. Regarding diagnosis, the medical history, skin prick test and search for specific serum IgE are crucial but cost effective. The development of a guide listing latex-containing drugs is essential for the primary prevention of allergic reactions. Immunotherapy or specific premedication seems not effective in preventing the risk of anaphylaxis during the perioperative course. The most effective strategy to decrease the incidence of latex sensitization is complete avoidance. This strategy is efficient in patients and also in health care workers and has been applied since 2002 in our pediatric surgical hospital. One of major problem with the latex-free gloves was that surgeons find them considerably more difficult to work with. But today, manufacturers made considerable effort and free-latex gloves with an equal tactile sensation than the latex-gloves are now available. The extra cost of free latex gloves is well counterbalanced as allergen test, long stay hospital for allergic reaction, and worker's compensation are no longer needed. Since the introduction of this program in our institution, no allergic reaction to latex has been reported in 25000 anesthetized children or with the health care workers.