It’s Latex Allergy Awareness Week! Research shows that approximately 68% of children with Spina Bifida develop a latex allergy due to overexposure from the many hospital visits that they often endure at the start of their life. Sue Lockwood, founder of the Latex Allergy Association, can relate. Sue developed a severe latex allergy over 30 years ago that forced her to end her career as a surgical technician. Her career change has allowed her to lead the way in latex allergy awareness. She is currently the Outreach and Volunteer Service Coordinator at the Allergy & Asthma Network.
“In the late 1980s, my career as a surgical technician came to an abrupt end due to latex allergy. Latex gloves used in hospitals and clinics back then put me at high risk for anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Studies revealed up to 17 percent of healthcare workers were sensitized to latex. It turned out the career change opened up my life to a new and meaningful mission. A colleague and I co-founded the American Latex Allergy Association and I served as its executive director for 23 years before coming to Allergy & Asthma Network. Through the years I worked to help thousands of latex patients, collaborated with latex researchers and developed a community – online and off – where patients support each other. Today many healthcare settings no longer use latex gloves. Every year we see more legislation passed by states banning latex products from use in public places, including restaurants. We’ve come a long way – but there’s still a long way to go. It’s a bittersweet thing for me to share that I plan to retire this year. I’m proud of the work we have done and our accomplishments through the years. I’ve just finished working on a new guide, “Latex Allergy: A Practical Guide for Patients & Providers,” that will be released soon. For those, like me, who continue to struggle daily with a latex allergy, it’s important that we understand the evidence to identify our triggers and treatments. Allergy & Asthma Network will always share the science and the patient voice. In addition to the new guide, we established Latex Allergy Awareness Week in the first week of October. We developed a latex allergy toolbox for patients, published online and continually updated at AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org. Of course, I will continue to make myself available to Allergy & Asthma Network to consult on latex allergy issues and the Network will continue to devote space to promoting advances in latex allergy and anaphylaxis treatment in all of its publications. We move our mission forward – no matter who is carrying the torch!” – Sue Lockwood
Here at SBA, we have many resources related to help you navigate living with a latex allergy. If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact our National Resource Center at [email protected]. Also, don’t forget to check out the many resources that the Allergy and Asthma Network provides about latex allergies, including their Latex Allergy Toolbox.