• latex;
  • prevalence;
  • occurrence;
  • screening


Background Because latex is a common allergen, the rate of latex sensitization may be high in the general population. A major issue would then be to detennine whether a systematic preoperative screening in the general population should be recommended.

Objective The purpose of the study was to evaluate the prevalence of latex sensitization in a sample of the general population and to assess the role of possible risk factors.

Methods The subjects were 258 people, aged from 20 to 40 yr, visiting a health care centre for a check-up. The protocol included: a questionnaire (occupation, symptoms of atopy, use of latex goods and possible reactions, history of previous surgery), a skin-prick test, and a CAP RAST to latex. Atopy was evaluated by a skin-prick test to common allergens and a Phadiatop® test.

Results Some 6.6% of the study group had either a positive skin test or a positive RAST to latex. These subjects had a four-fold higher prevalence of symptoms when wearing gloves. The rate of latex sensitization was higher by fivefold in subjects with a history of reactions to latex goods and by fourfold in atopic subjects.

Conclusions Because the rate of latex sensitization is much higher than the anticipated rate of perioperative reactions due to latex allergy, a systematic preoperative screening for latex allergy should not be recommended for adults.