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Using powder-free latex gloves reduces latex allergy rate in health care workers
Date:8/17/2011

Researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin investigating latex allergy in health care workers have demonstrated the most effective public health strategy to prevent allergic sensitization is by stopping the use of powdered latex gloves. Previous medical studies pointed out this association of latex allergy to powdered latex glove use but were not able to completely confirm this link in specific workers. Reducing the use of powdered gloves reduced the allergen in the air and in air ducts at two hospitals, and prevented sensitization to latex in health care workers at both institutions.

These findings, detailed in the paper "Prevention of IgE Sensitization to Latex in Health Care Workers after Reduction of Antigen Exposures," are published online-first in the August 2011 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The CDC quoted this article in its publication Science Clips as one of the best scientific articles of the week, because of the practical way in which the institutions were able to implement and then prove with the study an effective public health strategy.

Kevin J. Kelly, M.D., professor of pediatrics (allergy/immunology), internal medicine, and vice chair in pediatrics at the Medical College, is the lead author on the paper.

Dr. Kelly and his colleagues studied more than 800 health care workers at Froedtert Hospital and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin over a 4.5 year period. Researchers tested the amount of latex allergen in the air ducts of the employees' primary work areas before and after both institutions switched to powder-free gloves, and found a significant correlation between high levels of airborne allergen and health care workers with a latex allergy, or sensitivity.

The switch to powder-free gloves led to significant changes at both hospitals. The unique study design allowed the investigators to determine that there was a 16-fold reduction in the rate of latex sensitization
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Contact: Maureen Mack
mmack@mcw.edu
414-955-4744
Medical College of Wisconsin
Source:Eurekalert

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