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Latex type I sensitization and allergy in children with atopic dermatitis. Evaluation of cross-reactivity to some foods


Dr Monika Raulf-Heimsoth, Berufsgenossenschaftliches Forschungsinstitut für Arbeitsmedizin (BGFA), Department Allergology/Immunology, Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, D-44789 Bochum, Germany


Recent studies have demonstrated that allergy to natural rubber latex (NRL) is associated with cross-reactivity to certain foods. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of NRL sensitization and allergy in children with atopic dermatitis (n=74). We also examined cross-reactions between latex and foods, and compared the frequency of suspected latex cross-reacting fruits in children with and without NRL-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE). Twelve of the 74 atopic children studied (16.2%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 8.7–26.6%) had circulating IgE antibodies to latex. These NRL-sensitized children were older and they showed significantly higher total IgE values (p<0.003) when compared with the group of children without NRL sensitization. Of the specific food IgE evaluations, 18.4% (93 out of 505) were positive, and 69.9% were observed in the group of children with latex-specific IgE, most frequently to potato, tomato, sweet pepper, and avocado. An isolated latex-specific IgE response without food-specific IgE was never observed. Exclusively in the latex-positive group, conformity with the report of allergic symptoms after ingestion of food and increased food-specific IgE was found. Twenty children without proven latex sensitization showed increased food-specific IgE, most frequently to potato, banana, and chestnut. Avocado-specific IgE was never determined in this patient group. No significant differences were detected concerning the sensitization to potato, banana, and kiwi between NRL-sensitized children and the group of 20 children without latex-specific IgE. The competitive CAP inhibition using sera from children with specific IgE to both latex and food showed different cross-reactivities between latex and the specific food. A close relationship existed between latex and avocado (median inhibition: 100%), whereas sensitization to latex and kiwi seemed to be independent in our study group (inhibition: <25%). In particular, for potato, cross-reactivity and co-sensitization existed. Our study demonstrated that children with atopic dermatitis are a high-risk group for latex sensitization. Increasing age, additional sensitization to ubiquitous inhaled allergens, and enhanced total serum IgE values seemed to be important variables for latex sensitization and further sensitization to the latex-associated foods. Cross-reactivity and, in some cases, co-sensitization to specific fruits and vegetables, were observed.