Some children (and adults) have an allergy or sensitivity to latex (rubber). Reactions can be seen when products made from latex come in contact with the child's skin, mucous membranes (like the mouth, genitals, bladder or rectum) or the bloodstream (during surgery). Some children may react when blowing up a rubber balloon or breathing in powder from the inside of latex gloves. When the child has contact with products that contain latex you may see watery, itchy eyes; wheezing; hives, flushing or a skin rash; itching; or swelling. In some cases, severe reactions ("anaphylactic shock") can occur in which the child may have problems breathing, experience chest tightness, or have swelling of his/her throat or tongue. Severe reactions require emergency treatment.
Some children are more likely to become latex sensitive. These are children who have frequent exposure to latex from medical procedures. This group includes:
- children with spina bifida
- children born with urologic anomalies
- children who have had more than three surgeries
Children who have allergies to certain foods may also have a latex allergy. Both the foods and the latex may have some of the same proteins. Commonly eaten foods, which contain some of the same proteins as latex include:
- passion fruit
Banana, kiwi, chestnuts, and avocado can cause a more serious reaction to latex sensitive children. The other food items listed cause progressive symptoms that can begin with oral itching.
Many items at home and in the hospital may contain latex. These include:
Home and Community
Balloons (including mylar)
Koosh balls, rubber balls
Pacifiers, bottle nipples
Contraceptive devices (Condoms, diaphragms)
Beach toys, art supplies
Rubber bands, Band-Aids
Rubber hand grips on racquets and tools
Surgical and exam gloves
Blood pressure cuffs
|and many more
Any item that is light brown and can be stretched may contain latex. There are items that can be used in place of the items that contain latex. They are made from vinyl, plastic or silicone.
Inform your child's caregivers if:
- Your child has ever had any type of reaction to a latex product.
- You think your child has had a reaction to latex.
Your child's caregivers include dentists, physical/occupational therapists, doctors and nurses, teachers, daycare providers and babysitters, friends and family members.
How do I know if my child is allergic to latex?
Your child may have a latex allergy if:
- Your child has had a past reaction after coming in contact with latex-containing products.
- Your child has multiple allergies, or has allergies to fruits like kiwi and bananas.
- A blood or allergy prick test is done by your child’s doctor and detects latex allergy.
- A provocation test done by your child’s doctor detects latex allergy. This test is when the doctor exposes your child to latex products and monitors your child’s reaction.
If your child is allergic to latex:
- Avoid ALL latex products at home and in the hospital. Use items that do not have latex in them.
- If your child needs surgery, alert the surgery staff of your child's allergy. Ask for the surgery to be performed early in the day and in a latex free setting.
- Use a Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace.
- Carry a pair of non-latex gloves with you, information about latex allergies, and/or a note from your child's doctor.
- Be sure hospital and school records have a latex allergy alert.
- Teach your child to know and avoid latex products.
- Ask your child’s doctor about the use of epinephrine shot for your child. Have it available for your child in all his surroundings (at home, in the car, at daycare, etc.)
- Know what to do in case of an emergency. Discuss this with your child's doctor and school nurse.
- Avoid areas where you may inhale latex molecules from health care workers.
Please note: Avoiding latex products may decrease the chance of your child developing this allergy.
This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.