In this article, we’ll take a look at the latest research findings related to latex allergy, as well as studies that are currently in progress.
FUNDING FOR LATEX ALLERGY RESEARCH
The House Appropriations Committee has given $2,062,126,000 to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for research. The committee heard testimony on latex allergy, and is urging NIAID to increase the amount of funding designated for latex allergy research.
RUBBER STOPPERS IN MEDICATION VIALS
Scientists at Johns Hopkins are encouraging the FDA and pharmaceutical companies to label all drug vials that contain natural rubber latex (NRL) stoppers, and to start using synthetic rubber for stoppers as soon as possible. This recommendation is based on a new study (reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) of 23 volunteers: 12 with latex allergy and 11 without latex allergy. All participants had puncture and intradermal skin testing with solutions from five drug vials. Two of the vials had NRL stoppers and the other three had synthetic stoppers. Two latex-allergic volunteers had skin reactions even when the NRL stopper was not punctured, indicating the presence of NRL allergen in the solution just from being in contact with the stopper. Five latex-allergic individuals had reactions when the stopper was punctured 40 times before testing. (Many drug vials contain multiple doses, and may be punctured many times in patient care settings.) Volunteers who were not latex-allergic did not have any reactions.
VENTILATION AND AIR RECIRCULATION
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) released the results of a study that suggest that methods of ventilation and air recirculation can significantly affect the development of latex allergy. The study compared the prevalence of latex allergy and environmental conditions in three Veterans Administration Hospitals. The sensitivity rates were as follows: Hospital A, 4%; Hospital B, 0.5-1%; and Hospital C, 2%. Differences in glove usage and staff turnover were not significant enough to explain the variability in sensitization. However, the three hospitals had major differences in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Hospital A (highest incidence of allergy) had an air recirculation system. Hospital B (lowest incidence of allergy) had a fresh air intake system, which drew air in from outside, circulated it once, and deposited it outside again without any recirculation. Hospital C (average incidence of allergy) had a mix of circulated and recirculated air.