TEEN HEALTH Published May5, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Teen Died after Eating Hundreds of Chewing Gum

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(Photo : Stuard Nicol | Hulton Archive)

A mother fought for an inquest for her daughter's death after her passing was ruled out to be by natural causes. She believed she might have been poisoned.

Samantha Jenkins was a 19-year-old girl working in a shop in South Wales when she died after throwing a fit and complaining about a massive headache. Based on her Facebook post, though, she might already be showing symptoms as she often complained about headaches for many months. She passed away in June 2011.

Based on the post-mortem exam, it was discovered that her stomach was filled with many mint green gums. This was later confirmed by her mother, 45-year-old Maria Morgan, who found hundreds of wrappers and packets of Trident. She's been obsessed with sugar-free gums and might have been eating more than 10 gums a day prior to her death.

According to the coroner's narrative verdict, Jenkins may have died due to brain swelling since her stomach could no longer absorb nutrients from good due to the accumulation of large pieces of gums. Levels of calcium, sodium, and magnesium, which are all important to maintain the right electrolyte balance, were incredibly low, even down to the critical level.

In the same inquest, Dr. Paul Griffiths, who was a pathologist, mentioned that the components of the gum, which contained aspartame and sorbitol that give the product the sweet taste, could have compounded the problem by creating a laxative effect, further depleting the levels of minerals.

Although these two ingredients are deemed safe, too much may also lead to problems. Dr. Griffiths shared how these two could be used to treat chronic constipation by treating 20 grams per day. As the condition improved, the dosage is then reduced. If Jenkins did consume 14 gums a day, it would mean she was consuming more than 16 grams of these sweeteners.

The inquest eventually maintained the earlier narrative verdict by the coroner which confirmed the brain swelling, and the pathologist is planning to bring to attention the possible monitoring and control of overconsumption of artificial sweeteners. 

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