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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 May;107(5):921-3.

Incidence of sensitization, symptoms, and probable occupational rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma in apprentices starting exposure to latex.

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Department of Chest Medicine, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Latex is a well-known sensitizer. Prospective studies in apprentices beginning to be exposed to latex have not been carried out. We wanted to determine the incidence of skin reactivity, cutaneous symptoms, rhinoconjunctivitis (RC) symptoms, respiratory symptoms, probable occupational RC, and asthma in apprentices in dental hygiene. A total of 122 students starting a program in dental hygiene technology were recruited between 1993 and 1995. A questionnaire, skin-prick tests with common aeroallergens and latex, and assessment of spirometry and responsiveness to methacholine were carried out on entry and at follow-up visits at 20 and 32 months after the start of exposure. Of the 110 subjects who participated for at least 1 follow-up visit, skin reactivity to latex developed in 7. Cutaneous symptoms developed in 6 of the 7, RC symptoms developed in 2, and respiratory symptoms developed in 1. Five of the 7 subjects had significant changes in methacholine responsiveness and fulfilled the definition of probable occupational asthma. Sensitized subjects were more likely to be atopic and to have a previous history of asthma and respiratory symptoms on exercise than were nonsensitized subjects. Three subjects at the 20-month assessment and 4 subjects at the 32-month visit showed skin reactivity. The cumulative incidences for skin sensitization, probable occupational RC, and occupational asthma to latex were 6.4%, 1.8%, and 4.5%, respectively.

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