Occupational asthma caused by natural rubber latex: outcome according to cessation or reduction of exposure

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Jan;109(1):125-30. doi: 10.1067/mai.2002.120760.


Background: The long-term effects of reducing exposure to latex in subjects with latex-induced asthma remain unknown.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the health and socioeconomic outcomes of subjects with latex-induced asthma before and after reduction or cessation of exposure to latex.

Methods: Thirty-six subjects with latex-induced asthma as ascertained by specific inhalation challenges were investigated after a median follow-up of 56 months (range, 12 to 92 months). Initial and follow-up visits included use of a detailed questionnaire and measurement of the concentration of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV(1) (PC(20)). At follow-up, information on employment, financial status, and quality of life was collected.

Results: At follow-up, 16 subjects were no longer exposed to latex, whereas 20 subjects had reduced exposure. In the subjects who avoided exposure, asthma severity decreased from a median score of 8.5 to 3.5 (P =.001) and the median histamine PC(20) value increased from 0.4 mg/mL to 2.3 mg/mL (P =.002). In the subjects who reduced their exposure, asthma-severity score improved from 6.5 to 2.5 (P <.001) and PC(20) values rose from 0.5 mg/mL to 2.4 mg/mL (P <.001). Cessation of exposure to latex was associated with asthma-related work disability (69%) and loss of income (62%) more frequently than was reduction of exposure (35% and 30%, respectively).

Conclusion: Reduction of exposure to latex should be considered a reasonably safe alternative that is associated with fewer socioeconomic consequences than removal from exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Latex / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Latex