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March 8, 1995

Latex-Induced Asthma Among Health Care Workers

JAMA. 1995;273(10):764. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520340016004

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IN A NEW study, researchers in Belgium have shown that the prevalence rate among health care personnel of occupational asthma from latex exposure may be higher than 2%.

Even though previous studies have reported that 8% to 17% of the health care workforce are sensitive to latex, data on the prevalence of asthma resulting from latex exposure are lacking.

The researchers in Belgium studied 273 nurses, laboratory technologists, and cleaning staff working in a primary care hospital. In the first phase of the study, 13 (4.7%) displayed latex sensitivity during skin-prick testing. In the second phase using spirometry, 12 who were sensitive to skin pricks also showed bronchial hyperresponsiveness to histamine. After specific latex inhalation challenges, seven had asthmatic reactions, for a prevalence rate of 2.5%.

"Widespread use of latex gloves should be considered a significant respiratory health hazard among hospital personnel. Every effort should therefore be made to reduce

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