A California mother is urging caretakers and medical providers to take extra precaution after her 11-year-old daughter suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a milk protein found in a seemingly harmless everyday toiletry.
Earlier this month, a visit to the dentist left the sixth grader with a prescription of MI Paste One, a brand of medicated toothpaste, in order to strengthen her tooth enamel, reports Allergic Living. Unbeknownst to the mother and daughter, the toothpaste Recaldent contains a milk protein used to reduce tooth decay and strengthen enamel. A small warning is listed on the toothpaste container, but neither had thought to check for allergens.
Shortly after brushing, the girl’s lips turned blue and she told her mother that she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. Her mother administered an EpiPen and gave her an asthma inhaler before conducting CPR while they waited for the emergency responders to arrive. Paramedics reportedly worked on the girl for several minutes before taking her to the hospital where she passed away.
“We hope we can help spread awareness and continue Denise’s dream of changing the world,” wrote the family on their GoFundMe page.
It’s a difficult reminder that those living with life-threatening allergies need to practice diligent safety measures.
Anaphylaxis is a potentially deadly allergic reaction that requires epinephrine – the main ingredient found in an EpiPen – and emergency medical help. Though most people recover, anaphylaxis can be fatal, especially in young children.
Dairy allergies are one of the most common allergies and affect as many as 2 in every 100 children under the age of four, according to WebMD. It differs from lactose intolerance, which involves the digestive system, in that it impacts the immune system. For those who are allergic to dairy, the body reacts to proteins in milk and other products, causing an allergic reaction as mild as a rash to severe difficulty breathing and the potential for death.
Officials are reminding parents to communicate with their doctor about any drug or food allergies their child may have, even at the dentist or eye doctor. Additionally, health providers should always inquire about any known allergies and communicate when a product or treatment involves a potential allergen. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends everyone have an Asthma Action Plan in writing that describes medicines, how to recognize when symptoms get worse, and what to do in an emergency.
The family writes that the girl’s "legacy of love, compassion, and generosity” will carry on through organ donation.