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Girl, 11, suffers fatal allergic reaction to toothpaste

By JAMI GANZ, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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The family of Denise Saldate is in mourning after her sudden death caused by a reaction to a milk protein in prescription toothpaste. (Obtained by New York Daily News)

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) — An allergic reaction to toothpaste took the life of 11-year-old Denise Saldate earlier this month, and her mother is opening up, hoping her experience will prevent future tragedies.

Denise, a California sixth-grader, had a dairy allergy that was diagnosed when she was 1. Her adverse reaction to a milk protein in an MI Paste One medicated toothpaste, intended to strengthen her tooth enamel, quickly proved fatal.

The family was careful to check ingredients and labels, but Denise’s mother, Monique Altamirano told Allergic Living, she “did not think to look at [these] product ingredients.” After all, no other toothpaste label she’d encountered had ever turned up milk product.

The front of this toothpaste tube does actually display a warning, albeit a small one, about the inclusion of milk protein. The back contains additional “cautionary wording.”

“Read everything,” Altamirano insists. “Don’t get comfortable, just because you’ve been managing for several years.” No matter what, she continued, “You can’t get comfortable or be embarrassed or afraid to ask and ensure that ingredients are OK. Be that advocate for your child.”

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Denise was brushing her teeth with the prescription toothpaste on the evening of April 4, when one of her older sisters told Altamirano that Denise started to cry, seemingly out of nowhere.

“[Denise] said, ‘I think I’m having an allergic reaction to the toothpaste,’ and her lips were already blue,” Altamirano recalled. The frantic mother ordered her older daughter to dial 911. She administered Denise’s EpiPen and gave the girl her asthma inhaler, before Denise insisted she couldn’t breathe. Even after her mother and paramedics administered CPR, Denise didn’t make it.

“She wasn’t just the light in my life, her smile didn’t just brighten my day, that was just who she was,” Altamirano said in response to a vigil since held for her daughter. A GoFundMe has been set up by Denise’s uncle to help pay for her funeral.

Altamirano penned a eulogy for the upcoming service, writing that Denise’s “legacy of love, compassion, and generosity” will endure through organ donation.

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