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What is the Latex-Food Syndrome?

Latex-Fruit Allergy

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Updated September 14, 2011

Updated September 14, 2011
Cross-reactivity between latex and various foods result from the presence of similar proteins in natural rubber latex and certain foods. Reactions to various foods can occur in people with latex allergy, and can include symptoms ranging from the oral allergy syndrome to life-threatening anaphylaxis. It is also possible for people with food allergy to various fruits to become allergic to latex as a result of similar proteins in the 2 substances.

How Common is the Latex-Food Syndrome?

In those people with latex allergy, nearly 70 percent will have a positive allergy test to at least one related food, and 50 percent will have a positive allergy test to more than one food. It appears that many of these positive skin tests do not necessarily mean that the person will experience allergic symptoms if the food is eaten, although may be as high as 35 percent.

Conversely, if a person is known to have an allergy to one of the fruits related to latex (see below), there appears to be an 86% chance of having a positive allergy test to latex, but only an 11% chance of actual allergic reactions to latex.

What Foods Are Known to Cross-React with Latex?

The following foods have been known to cross-react with latex. The following is not an exhaustive list, as new foods are added frequently:
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chestnut
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Eggplant
  • Melon
  • Passion Fruit
  • Mango
  • Wheat
  • Cherimoya

How is the Latex-Food Syndrome Diagnosed?

In those people with known latex allergy, it is important to evaluate for the possibility of food allergy to various fruits, including those listed above. This may involve skin testing using commercial extracts as well as the “prick-prick” method with the fresh fruit.

How is the Latex-Food Syndrome Treated?

Due to the potential for severe symptoms of food allergy, avoidance of the culprit foods is strongly recommended in those people with positive allergy tests. Other recommendations for people with latex and food allergies include obtaining a Medic-Alert® bracelet and carrying injectable epinephrine, such as an Epi-Pen ®.

Want to keep learning? Find out more about latex allergy.

Sources:

Beezold DH, Sussman GL, Liss GM, Chang NS. Latex Allergy Can Induce Clinical Reactions to Specific Foods. Clin Exp Allergy. 1996; 26:416-22.

Sicherer SH. Clinical Implications of Cross-Reactive Food Allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001; 108:881-90.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and Food Allergy Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006; 96:S1-68.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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