PURPOSE Patients with spina bifida are at a high risk for having an immediate type allergy to latex products. The number of surgical interventions, atopy and catheterization are well known responsible factors, whereas the condition of spina bifida per se has not been established as an independent risk factor. MATERIALS AND METHODS A total of 131 patients with a shunted hydrocephalus (48 with spina bifida and 83 of other origin) were investigated for sensitization to latex by skin prick tests and determination of specific IgE. We hypothesized that the diagnosis of spina bifida will increase the risk for latex sensitization while considering potential confounding factors. Thus, we performed a multiple logistic regression analysis to determine independent risk factors. RESULTS Whereas 56.3% (27/48) of children with spina bifida proved sensitized against latex, this result was the case in only 16.9% (14/83) with another cause of hydrocephalus (p <0.001). The mean number of surgical interventions was 6.2 for patients with no latex sensitization and 9.3 for those with sensitization (p = 0.02). Of patient sensitized to latex 43.9% had a history of atopy compared to 15.5% of those not sensitized (p = 0.02). Sensitized and nonsensitized patients were comparable regarding gender and catheterization. In a multiple logistic regression analysis the cause of the hydrocephalus (odds ratio 6.76 for spina bifida), atopy (odds ratio 3.37) and the number of surgical interventions (odds ratio 1.14 per operation) were identified as independent risk factors. CONCLUSIONS The increased risk of latex sensitization in patients with spina bifida seems to be disease associated. Possible explanations for this finding may be genetic, antigen mediated, early latex exposure and immunological reasons.