Study objective: Determining the incidence of latex
allergy in children receiving home mechanical ventilation.
Background: The prevalence of latex allergy in the general
population ranges from 0.1 to 1.0%. However, in patients with spina
bifida and other chronic medical conditions associated with repeated
exposure to latex, the prevalence may be as high as 60%. Children
receiving home mechanical ventilation are frequently exposed to latex
products. Therefore, we hypothesized that these children would be at
increased risk for latex allergy.
children receiving home mechanical ventilation (31 boys, 26 girls; mean[±
SD] age, 7.8 ± 6.6 years; range, 0.3 to 23.2 years) were
enrolled. A radioallergosorbent test (RAST) for latex was administered
and serum IgE levels were obtained in all patients.
Results: Seventeen patients (29.8%) were found to have a
positive RAST for latex. Patients with latex allergy had required
mechanical ventilation for an average of 6.1 ± 4.1 years vs
5.5 ± 5.4 years (p = 0.69; not significant) in those without latex
allergy. Eleven of 17 patients (64.7%) had elevated serum IgE levels
in the group with latex allergy vs only 14 of 40 patients (35.0%) in
the group with a negative latex RAST (p = 0.04; odds ratio,
Conclusion: We conclude that there is a high
incidence of latex allergy in children requiring home mechanical
ventilation. We speculate that screening all children receiving home
mechanical ventilation may lead to the identification of patients with
previously undiagnosed latex allergy and the prevention of untoward
reactions from exposure to latex.