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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Aug;110(2 Suppl):S75-81.

Occupational asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis induced by natural rubber latex exposure.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


A number of reports indicate that occupational exposure to natural rubber latex (NRL) in health care workers can elicit symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis with or without asthma in selected individuals who are sensitized. The prevalence or risk of NRL-induced asthma in relation to rhinoconjunctivitis is small in comparison with other forms of occupational allergic respiratory disease. The lower risk of NRL-induced asthma appears to be related to poor penetration of the allergen into the lower respiratory tract because of the relatively large particle size of allergen-bearing cornstarch particles. Because of a lack of large prospective studies, little is know about the incidence and natural history of latex-induced respiratory disease. Because of heightened awareness of NRL allergy and changing patterns in glove manufacturing and glove use, it is likely that the occurrence of NRL-induced occupational respiratory disease will decline and its natural history will change. Nevertheless, because large number of individuals are exposed to NRL in various occupations, the incidence, prevalence, and natural history of NRL allergy merit further monitoring.

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