April 19, 2019
If your child has a food allergy, you're probably used to reading labels and checking ingredients. But as one family in California heartbreakingly discovered, an allergen can pop up unexpectedly in a product you'd come to assume was safe—like toothpaste.
On April 4, 11-year-old Denise Saldate suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction after brushing her teeth with a prescription toothpaste that contained a milk protein. Her mom, Monique Altamirano, told Allergic Living they'd been vigilant about reading labels from the time Denise was diagnosed with a severe milk allergy at age 1. They just assumed this toothpaste was like all the others she'd ever used, but tragically, that wasn't the case.
Now Denise's mom, while absolutely devastated, is speaking out in the hopes of preventing another family from suffering a similar fate. She's urging other parents: "Read everything. Don't get comfortable, just because you've been managing for several years."
MI Paste One, the toothpaste a dentist prescribed to Denise in order to strengthen her enamel, did have a warning label saying it contained Recaldent, a milk-based protein. But Altamirano said that after years of reading other toothpaste labels and never seeing any problematic ingredients, she just assumed this medicated toothpaste would be the same.
Denise's mom doesn't want any other parent to make the same kind of assumption. She reiterated the importance of checking every label—even if it's on a product you routinely use. "This is your child's life, and God forbid you have to go through what I'm going through," she told Allergic Living.
Altamirano tried desperately to help her daughter when she went into anaphylaxis. She quickly administered an EpiPen, called 911, gave Denise her asthma inhaler, and then performed CPR. Sadly, neither she nor the paramedics could save Denise, but Altamirano believes sharing her story could save someone else's child.
"We can't bring Denise back but we can help others in her name," Altamirano told Yahoo Lifestyle.
"We are so grateful to people who take allergies seriously," she added. "Denise wanted to change the world, but it's heartbreaking how she's doing it."
Denise's uncle created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses and the campaign has already exceeded its $10,000 goal.