Altamirano and Saldate had never spotted milk as a toothpaste ingredient, so they allowed her to use MI Paste One, a medicated toothpaste prescribed by her dentist.
“Denise had white spots on her teeth and the toothpaste was supposed to strengthen her enamel,” Altamirano tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “She was so excited to use her ‘special’ toothpaste.”
The family did not see the warnings printed on the front-and-back of the tube that the toothpaste contains Recaldent, a milk-derived protein.
A California family whose daughter died from an allergic reaction from using a milk-based toothpaste did not see warning labels on the product. (Photo: Courtesy of Monique Altamirano)
On April 4, while she was brushing her teeth with her 15-year-old sister, Denise ran from the bathroom crying. “She said she couldn’t breath and her lips were blue,” Altamirano tells Yahoo Lifestyle. The mom called 911 and administered chest compressions, which she learned in her former career as a school bus driver.
Denise died that night. “The toothpaste was all over her teeth and gums and it cut off her oxygen,” said Altamirano.
Administering CPR and using an EpiPen and inhaler were not enough to save Denise.
“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.”
Growing up, I was the only kid around with food allergies. For the most part, people around me have taken it very seriously. I have gone over twenty-years without an allergic reaction (not including medically supervised food challenges).
That avoidance is premised upon two factors.
1: understanding how serious anaphylaxis is.
2: diligent parenting and instilling the need to check everything.
As this story out of California shows, an EpiPen is not a cure for anaphylaxis, it just buys time. It is very possible that anaphylaxis will kill you even after using an EpiPen. The seriousness of it is cheapened when idiots ask you to chance it because you have an EpiPen.
When I got older, I began hearing more and more stories about kids younger than me having all these reactions as if their parent’s didn’t care about them avoiding allergens. Accidental exposure to allergens seemed like the norm for young kids with food allergies. Other parents were stupid enough to trust restaurants, school room-parents, and other people who might come into contact with their kids food choices. Growing up, I wasn’t afforded the false sense of security where everyone supposedly cared about kids with food allergies. I was the oddity and it kept people scared of making a mistake.
I remember when I was 12 or 13, I was looking after a 1st or 2nd grader with food allergies during a school-wide lunch right before Thanksgiving. Some volunteer parent was handing out “allergy friendly” cookies. Of course, the parent couldn’t identify what allergens were or weren’t in the cookies, let alone how they were handled. I took a hard pass on them and didn’t let the kid I was with have any. I was able to protect myself and this kid because I learned to be diligent and cautious with my allergies. If you didn’t read the label and don’t know how it was handled, you didn’t eat it.
Parents are so concerned about trying to make their child feel included or make other kids feel included that they are willing to jeopardize their health. That’s idiotic.
As for this family, I find it difficult to believe that after 11 years of raising a child with the same allergy, it never dawned on them to check toothpaste labels. Why didn’t the dentist know? And with an allergen like milk, it really strains credulity to think that they never checked.
It’s really quite simple…every label gets checked. Everyone who might handle a product necessitating a label check needs to know about your food allergies.
Even the person who cut my hair knew. Shampoos can have wheat in them.
I check labels on new foods, foods I’ve been eating forever, soaps, shampoos, hand sanitizers (one brand has wheat protein in it), toothpaste, and anything that might conceivably be food-based. I have to check labels for how otherwise safe foods have been handled.
It may be a pain, but that’s what you do if you want to avoid anaphylaxis.