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Ann Emerg Med. 2002 Oct;40(4):411-9.

The prevalence of latex-specific IgE in patients presenting to an urban emergency department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, and the Center for Healthcare Effectiveness Research, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.

Erratum in

  • Ann Emerg Med 2003 Jan;41(1):160.



Since the first report of immediate hypersensitivity to latex was documented in 1979, latex allergy has been increasingly recognized as a medical problem in patient populations. However, there are no data available regarding the seroprevalence of latex sensitization in patients presenting to the emergency department. The overall aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of latex IgE seropositivity (L-IgE) in ED patients.


We measured latex-specific IgE antibodies among a convenience sample of 1,027 patients using the AlaSTAT assay. We also measured serum IgE antibodies specific for 12 common inhalant allergens using the AlaTOP Microplate Allergy Screen assay. Demographic data were collected. Two questions related to latex allergy were queried. Descriptive statistics are presented. Point estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for each seroprevalence test. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs were used to assess the relationship between sex, race, and seropositivity to inhalant allergens and L-IgE.


The participation rate was 90% (1,027). The mean age of the patients was 46.9 years, 47.6% (489) were male, and 13.9% (143) were white. Eighty-four (8.2%; 95% CI 6.5% to 10.0%) had positive L-IgE results, and 23.8% (20) of patients with positive L-IgE results were classified as having strongly positive results. Bivariate analyses showed that being nonwhite (OR 4.7; 95% CI 1.5 to 15.1) and being seropositive for inhalant allergens (OR 7.4; 95% CI 4.2 to 13.1) were associated with L-IgE.


The prevalence of latex sensitization in our sampling is substantial and higher than previously estimated in the general adult population. The clinical significance of seropositivity requires further evaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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