Concern for the safety of people with an allergy to latex has caused Blessing Health System to ban latex balloons from all areas of Blessing Hospital, Blessing Physician Services facilities and Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield. The ban includes deliveries to patients and staff members.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, latex allergy is a reaction to certain proteins in latex rubber. Increasing the exposure to latex proteins increases the risk of developing allergic symptoms.
Symptoms usually begin within minutes of exposure; but can occur hours later and can be varied. Mild reactions involve skin redness, rash, hives, or itching. More severe reactions may involve respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and asthma (difficult breathing, coughing spells, and wheezing). Allergic reactions to latex may be serious and can very rarely be fatal.