Recent studies have shown that up to 73% of individuals with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are allergic to latex. Latex is the sap of the rubber tree. It is used to make a variety of common items such as balloons, erasers, surgical gloves, various contraceptives (condoms), elastic fabric and car tires. The cause of latex allergies is unknown but may be due to frequent early exposure through surgical procedures and other medical treatments.
Sensitivity to latex produces may cause familiar allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rashes, hives, swelling and itching on contact and in extreme cases, respiratory distress.
Unfortunately, as with most allergies, the only effective treatment is avoidance. Substitute products made with other materials (for example vinyl or nitrile gloves can be used instead of latex gloves) or cover the items with a cloth to avoid direct contact. Consult an allergist, wear a medic alert bracelet and tell all your care providers about your allergy.
Visit our Useful Links page to find a variety of resources on Latex Allergies.