• allergy;
  • avoidance;
  • health care workers;
  • latex;
  • prevention;
  • sensitization spreading;
  • spina bifida

Niggemann B. IgE-mediated latex allergy – An exciting and instructive piece of allergy history. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: 997–1001. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Natural rubber latex represents a potent allergen, which for many years had an important impact on occupational health problems but especially on certain risk groups such as spina bifida. Luckily, these problems decreased when powder-free, latex-poor gloves were introduced. Latest data show that in children with spina bifida, who grew up completely latex-free from birth on, sensitization to NRL as well as clinical relevant allergy significantly decreased. Furthermore, sensitization to aeroallergens also went down and even the prevalence of allergic diseases decreased significantly to rates of the general population. This new data clearly indicates that potent allergens (such as latex) in high-risk groups (such as spina bifida) can induce sensitization spreading, and corresponding avoidance can reverse this development. In conclusion, it can be stated that ‘new’ allergies can suddenly arise, there are allergen-specific risk groups, local IgE-production is also possible in the CNS, allergen avoidance can be very effective in terms of primary prevention, sensitization spreading can be made reversible by effective prevention, and finally, certain allergies can luckily become history within a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, these new findings clearly end the debate about whether patients with spina bifida have a disease-inherited risk for allergy to NRL and show that the cause is the meningi and the multiple surgical interventions – and therefore sequelae can be reversed by implementing preventive measures.