Spina bifida children have a high prevalence of latex allergy in studies reported from Europe and the USA. This study investigated the prevalence of latex allergy in a cohort of 24 spina bifida children at the Red Cross Children's Hospital from Cape Town, South Africa. The children were investigated using a detailed questionnaire, skin prick tests (ALK-Abello), ImmunoCap RASTs, Western blotting and ELISA, using the purified latex proteins Hev b1 and Hev b3 and whole latex preparation. A low overall prevalence of latex sensitization of 16.7% was found in the children. Children who were sensitive reacted to water insoluble to Hev b1 and Hev b3 proteins. The low prevalence of latex sensitization in the South African children may not be entirely explained by stringent latex avoidance. The children were from a low socioeconomic social status and 'hygiene' and other factors should be considered.
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