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OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of latex allergy in an Australian population of children and adolescents with spinal cord dysfunction and a comparison population of their siblings without spinal dysfunction. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study of all patients with spinal cord dysfunction attending the single tertiary spinal dysfunction clinic in Western Australia, and of their siblings closest in age. SUBJECTS: 104 patients with spinal dysfunction born 1978-1996 inclusive, and 50 siblings. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence estimates and adjusted odds ratio estimates of the risk of having a history of latex allergy and of testing latex-specific IgE positive. RESULTS: Of the patients, 15.4% (95% CI, 9.1%-23.8%) had a history of latex allergy compared with none (95% CI, 0-5.8%) of the siblings. Of the 84 patients tested, 36.9% (95% CI, 26.6%-48.1%) were latex-specific IgE positive compared with 15.4% (95% CI, 4.4%-35.9%) of the 26 siblings tested. For patients, every operation after the first increased the risk of a positive IgE result cumulatively by 41% (odds ratio, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.18-1.68). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of latex sensitivity and clinical allergy in children and adolescents with spinal dysfunction in Australia is as high as that seen in the United States, and is related to latex exposure during surgery. The management policy regarding latex exposure for patients with spinal dysfunction requires urgent consideration.


Journal article


Med J Aust

Publication Date





15 - 18


Case-Control Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Hospitals, Pediatric, Humans, Infant, Latex Hypersensitivity, Male, Odds Ratio, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Spinal Cord Diseases, Surveys and Questionnaires, Western Australia