The Latex Balloon Allergy Hoopla
Designing without the use of latex balloons is a challenge. Not that we aren’t up for it as the birthday designs shown here illustrate (I hope)! Mylar or foil balloons (non-latex) are also more expensive. They are available in many more shapes and sizes these days and they do generally stay afloat longer because the helium does not seep out as it does with latex –
a topic for another discussion…
Most hospitals have banned latex balloons. Citing latex allergies, many schools have also banned latex balloons.
Slowly disappearing are the days of balloon arches and tunnels on football fields, at prom, or other school functions. How many individuals must have a latex allergy in order for an ENTIRE hospital, school or district to ban latex balloons? Apparently only 1 – one child among hundreds of children is enough to inspire fear of lawsuits among administrators. Really?!? What ever happened to common sense? Except in an extremely small percentage of the population, most individuals only have symptoms when they come directly into contact with latex or directly breath latex proteins. So, back to common sense – if you are allergic, stay away from the latex balloons, but don’t ruin the fun for everyone else!
“In the United States, attention to latex allergy was prompted by reports of several fatalities due to anaphylaxis induced by latex retention balloons used in barium enema procedures(9-11) and by frequent intra-operative anaphylaxis among children with spina bifida, a fact later attributed to the high prevalence of latex allergy among these children which was most probably induced by early and repeated exposures.(12-15)
How can latex allergy be prevented?
If you have latex allergy you should avoid direct contact with all products and devices that contain latex. Also avoid food that causes an allergic reaction. Latex allergy problems during dental, medical or surgical procedures can be prevented by warning health care providers about latex allergy before any test or treatment. Latex allergic people can receive medical or dental care in a latex-safe area. Hospitals and clinics that use only low protein latex gloves and non-latex gloves have experienced dramatic declines in new cases of latex allergy. “Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Even the experts indicate that latex allergies occur in a small, and fairly specific group of individuals. The ACAAI recommends avoiding DIRECT CONTACT with latex. That’s it. Don’t touch the balloons, don’t rub against the balloons, generally just don’t get close to the balloons – which in most settings is not too difficult a task.
We delivered balloon columns to a block party last summer. Suprisingly, the customer had a child with a latex allergy. Yes, she ordered balloons for a neighborhood event knowing that her child had a latex allergy. How did she handle the situation? She yelled across the yard for the child to stay away from the balloons… That was it – no hysterics, no panic ensued.
Naturally, I am biased, but it does seem we (as a society) ban items and activities simply because we live in fear of lawsuits. My daughter, at age 7, fell out of a tree and required 5 stitches in her head. Did I sue the homeowner of the tree? No! I told my daughter not to climb trees without proper footwear or a better sense of balance! Isn’t there any way we, and our children, can assume some personal responsibility rather than inflicting restrictions on an entire group or organization? Common sense – not so common these days.