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March 25, 1998

Prevention and Management of Latex Allergy

JAMA. 1998;279(12):911. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-279-12-jbk0325

To the Editor.—Dr Bernstein1 discusses latex allergies in his article "Allergic Reactions to Workplace Antigens," but he does not cite a recent development in the field. Since 8% to 12% of regularly exposed health care workers are sensitized to latex and the overall prevalence of latex asthma is up to 2.5%, physicians should be aware that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 has recently produced an advisory recommending the following measures: use nonlatex gloves for activities not likely to involve contact with infectious materials and only use powder-free latex gloves with reduced protein content when necessary. These recommendations highlight the importance of symptom recognition and appropriate consultation, with avoidance as a treatment measure and education of workers being cornerstones of management. The Food and Drug Administration3 has mandated that all medical devices be labeled as to their latex content beginning in 1998.

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