When you consider that a baby spends 12 to 14 hours a day sleeping, it’s a wonder that the use of latex in crib mattresses hasn’t been restricted. Here’s a brief summary of what the experts have to say:
A study, one of many, conducted on over 1,000 health care workers found that nearly 22% had symptoms related to wearing latex gloves. Most of the problems were skin related, but some had asthma and cold symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, nose, ears, and throat, runny noses, nasal congestion, or worse. Some reactions have been so severe that health care workers have had to change professions, and some have been fatal.
More than 10 years ago (in September, 1997), the FDA issued a ruling stating that the labeling of medical devices containing natural rubber latex (if the device is likely to come in contact with humans) must state, in bold print: “Caution: This Product Contains Natural Rubber Latex Which May Cause Allergic Reactions.” At the same time, they also said those products could not be labeled as “hypoallergenic.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an estimated 10% of health care workers are sensitive to latex – although, as above, some studies indicate that number could be more than double.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology calls latex allergy a serious health risk. Find out more about latex allergy on their site.
Is there any reason to think the risk may be less for babies? Hardly; a body still in development is even more susceptible than when fully grown.
Unless you’re going to test a baby for latex allergy, which, even if you wanted to, is a little hard to do before the baby is put into his crib for the first time, you don’t know whether your baby is going to react to it or not. Nor is there any way to know if a sensitivity will develop over time – also a common occurrence.
At Naturepedic, we make our crib mattresses without latex foam. And we also don’t use any materials like coir (crushed coconut husks) that traditionally require a significant amount of latex to mold and hold it in a form like a mattress. If you’re looking for something 100% latex-free, you’ve found it.