Latex sensitization and risk factors in female nurses in Thai governmental hospitals

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2014 Jan;27(1):93-103. doi: 10.2478/s13382-014-0230-7.

Abstract

Objectives: Exposure to latex allergens in latex gloves can cause occupational health problems in nurses, yet latex gloves are still widely used in Thai hospitals. Therefore, we conducted a study to determine the prevalence of latex sensitization in nurses and identify risk factors associated with sensitization.

Materials and methods: A questionnaire, providing information on personal characteristics, ill-health, working conditions and symptoms related to latex product use, was administered to 363 female nurses working in two tertiary hospitals in southern Thailand. Latex sensitization was confirmed using a solid phase immunoassay to detect anti-latex IgE antibodies. Total glove protein levels were determined by using a modified Lowry method and latex aeroallergens by a competitive inhibition immunoassay.

Results: The overall prevalence of latex sensitization was 4.4%. Respiratory symptoms related to latex glove use were significantly associated with latex sensitization (OR = 5.5, 95% CI: 1.57-19). Total glove protein levels ranged 87.8-250.8 μg protein/dm(2). The prevalence of latex sensitization was higher (6.6% vs. 2.2%) in the hospital where gloves with higher protein levels (82-438 μg/g vs. 86-170 μg/g) were used. Furthermore, latex sensitization prevalence increased from 3% to 5% with increased average departmental aeroallergen concentrations.

Conclusions: Latex sensitization prevalence in Thai nurses was higher than previously reported. Respiratory exposure seems to play an important role, in addition to dermal exposure. If latex gloves cannot be replaced by non-latex alternatives, replacement with gloves with lower protein content should be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gloves, Protective / adverse effects
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Humans
  • Latex / analysis
  • Latex Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Thailand / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Latex