A mother of four daughters expresses her word of caution. Families living with anaphylactic allergies should never get ‘too comfortable’, even if you’ve been managing well for several years.
UPDATE: (April 24th, 2019)
Our readers should note that this incident is a rare occurrence given that a food protein that Denise was allergic to was found in the toothpaste prescribed to her by her dentist. Such rare fatalities can serve as careful reminders that food allergies can be severe and require clear communication between caregivers, careful inspection of food labels and having epinephrine available at all times. Dr. David Stukus, a pediatric allergist and associate professor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, emphasizes that the sequence of events described by Denise’s mother is extremely rare. Products already in the household are unlikely to pose an issue if kids have been using them and tolerating them.
Monique’s youngest daughter, Denise (age 11) suffered from a severe milk allergy. Monique has always been consistent and diligent when it came to vetting every label for her daughter’s allergies. While Denise has outgrown a few, she had also taught her siblings to do the same for the health of her sister.
On April 4th 2019, Monique had taken Denise to the dentist after some concern with spotting on her teeth. Her dental office had suggested that Denise begin using MI Paste, a type of medicated toothpaste to help strengthen her tooth enamel.
Denise was excited to try her new special toothpaste, as any kid would be. Monique had spent years reading labels, and not once had she found milk present in toothpaste formulas and so she did not think to read this label.
Denise had experienced some allergic reactions over the years, but nothing compared to this reaction. Denise was brushing her teeth with her new toothpaste, her 15-year- old sister was also in the washroom. Her sister said that Denise almost immediately started crying and ran into her mother’s room.
She said, “I think I’m having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste”. At this point, Denise’s lips were already turning blue. Monique told her 15-year old to call 9-1-1 as she administered an EpiPen and gave Denise her asthma inhaler.
Struggling to breathe, the emergency operator told her mother to get Denise flat on the floor and perform CPR right away. When the paramedics arrived they took over and worked with Denise for several minutes before helping Denise and Monique into the ambulance.
This exposure to a milk ingredient in her new toothpaste was a fatal mistake.
Denise didn’t make it, and now Monique is sharing an important reminder for families living with severe allergies. We should never make assumptions about labels or ingredients. “Don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable”.
This medicated toothpaste that Denise was given contained Recaldent, an ingredient derived from milk protein known as CPP-ACP (casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate). It was labeled on the front of the small tub, a cautionary label was also printed on the back.
Allergies can be fatal, and we need to remain mindful of those with allergies. With this experience, dental professionals should be reminded to ask patients, on a regular basis, whether they have allergies. We can also hope that allergists and pediatricians will inform patients of allergen risks at the dentist’s office or for other unexpected exposures. Parent’s should also be aware of how to make a trip to the dentist with a child with allergies safe and stress-free.
Allergic Living also suggests that families should have an asthma action plan and an anaphylaxis emergency care plan. Reactions can turn bad, quickly. As Monique shares “You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child.”
- After Daughter’s Fatal Reaction to Toothpaste, Mother Calls for Caution https://www.allergicliving.com/2019/04/15/after-daughters-fatal-reaction-to-toothpaste-mother-calls-for-caution/
- FDA Set to Launch Consumer Survey on Allergens in Cosmetics https://www.allergicliving.com/2018/11/07/fda-set-to-launch-consumer-survey-on-allergens-in-cosmetics/
- Food & Allergy Anaphylaxis Care Plan https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/food-allergy-anaphylaxis-emergency-care-plan
- Going to the Dentist When Your Child Has Food Allergies https://allergy-bites.com/2018/04/04/going-to-the-dentist-when-your-child-has-food-allergies/
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