A family is mourning the loss of their 11-year-old daughter who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a milk-based toothpaste.
Denise Saldate, from West Covina in the US state of California, was diagnosed with a milk allergy when she was one after struggling to properly digest breastmilk, dairy, or even soy products, according to Allergic Living.
Parents Monique Altamirano, 43, and Jose Saldate, 43, were given EpiPens and habitually read product and food labels as shrimp, egg whites, peanuts and wheat were possible allergens.
“I cried each time I left Denise in someone else’s care because some people don’t take allergies seriously,” Ms Altamirano told Yahoo Lifestyle.
But the girl’s parents always made sure their daughter felt included.
“We packed her specific desserts to eat at birthday parties and worked with her school on the correct lunch foods,” Mr Saldate said.
The parents 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,” Ms Altamirano told 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 contained Recaldent, a milk-derived protein.
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 breathe and her lips were blue,” Ms Altamirano said.
The mum 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,” Ms Altamirano said.
Only two weeks after their daughter’s death, Denise’s parents said raising awareness was “the only thing that makes sense”.
Denise dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, a news producer and restaurant owner, and her father said she was a born leader.
“We can’t bring Denise back but we can help others in her name,” Ms Altamirano told Yahoo Lifestyle.
A GoFundMe page has already raised more than $23,000 to cover the girl’s funeral services.
“We are so grateful to people who take allergies seriously,” Ms Altamirano said.
“Denise wanted to change the world, but it’s heartbreaking how she’s doing it.”
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