Those with allergies make it a point to scrutinize the ingredient list of everything they buy that will come in contact with their body. The anaphylactic reactions can be lethal and so the extra precaution at every step is a necessity, choosing to ignore which can turn into a matter of life and death.
But have you ever questioned a toothpaste’s components in this regard?
An 11-year old Denise Saldate passed away after suffering a fatal allergic reaction to milk protein from an unexpected source: a prescription toothpaste!
Denise’s parents had always been on their guard when administering any product to their allergic-to-milk daughter; they were thorough with any food labels and signs on their purchases, and would dissect the component section meticulously. After years of inspection and finding all toothpastes innocent, even parents as heedful as Denise’s ignored the ingredient list on Denise’s newly prescribed toothpaste.
“I did not think to look at the product ingredients,” said Monique, the grieving mother. “Denise was just excited to have her special toothpaste,” she said.
The parents could not have imagined in their wildest dream that after all the precautions taken on a daily basis, a toothpaste would cause the death of their daughter.
A dentist had suggested Saldate to use MI Paste One, a medicated toothpaste, which would help strengthen her tooth enamel. The family was shocked when Saldate suffered anaphylaxis while brushing her teeth. Her lips turned blue and she could not breathe. On hearing her daughter complain about it, Moniqued asked her daughter to ‘call 911’ (emergency contact) while she rushed for the EpiPen and also gave Denise an asthma inhaler; she performed chest compressions as well. The paramedics arrived and took over; they were transported to the hospital. However, the damage was done, and Denise died two days later.
As it turned out, the medicated toothpaste contains Recaldent, which is derived from a protein found in cow’s milk.
“I did not think to look at the product ingredients,” Monique said. “Contrary to what everyone’s telling me, I feel like I failed her!”
“Read everything. Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years,” she warned others. “You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child.”
In the eulogy she has written for her daughter’s funeral service, Monique notes:
“Her family implores those who are aware to share their knowledge and to inform those who are unfamiliar with anaphylaxis of the seriousness of this condition. They hope that in sharing her story, families, caregivers, school staff, and people in general will take this condition more seriously and that all items will be checked for ingredients, even those that may seem irrelevant.”