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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Jan;109(1):131-5.

Changes in rates of natural rubber latex sensitivity among dental school students and staff members after changes in latex gloves.

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  • 1Gage Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, University of Toronto, St Michael's and Toronto Western Hospitals.



A high rate of sensitization and clinical allergy to natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves has been reported in dental students and staff members.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether a change in glove use from high-protein/powdered to low-protein/powder-free latex gloves at a previously surveyed dental school reduced the prevalence of NRL sensitivity among students and staff members.


A cross-sectional study was performed through use of a questionnaire and skin prick testing to low ammoniated NRL extract; the method was similar to that used in a study conducted in 1995. Analyses were performed on the entire groups as well as on a subset of senior students.


A total of 97 subjects (61 students and 36 staff members) completed the questionnaire and underwent skin prick testing; this compared with 131 subjects in 1995. Percentages of subjects reporting asthma symptoms, rhinitis or conjunctivitis, urticaria, or pruritus within minutes of NRL exposure were 4%, 7%, 6%, and 8%, respectively; the corresponding percentages in the 1995 survey were 7% (P = not significant), 13% (P = not significant), 20% (P =.004), and 22% (P =.005). Results were similar for the subset of senior students, but in addition there were also significantly fewer complaints of rhinoconjunctivitis in 2000 than in 1995 (0% and 12%, respectively; P =.007). Of 97 subjects who underwent skin prick testing, 3 (3%) had positive skin prick test responses of 2+ or greater to NRL; this compared with 13 (10%) of 131 subjects in 1995 (P =.03). There were 3 positive skin test responses among staff members in 2000; there were none among students.


Our results suggest a preventive effect on NRL allergy in dental students from the change to low-protein/powder-free NRL gloves in the dental school.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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