Killed By Chewing Gum? Inquest Into Teenager's Death To Begin Next Week

Not many would assume that they would ever be killed by chewing gum. However, Maria Morgan, mother of 19-year-old Samantha Jenkins, who died from a brain swelling in June, 2011, has finally won a four year battle to have a formal inquest into her teenage daughter's death.

According to Maria Morgan, her daughter suddenly fell ill after consuming a chewing gum containing sorbitol, a bulk sweetener found in numerous food products and is often used as a laxative. Morgan, a resident of South Wales, explained that her daughter felt a headache coming on and had pins and needles prior to dying three days later.

"She had complained of feeling unwell that day and told me she felt a headache coming on and had pins and needles."
She continued to describe the horrible ordeal, "She went upstairs that night and suddenly shouted down to me, 'Is this what it feels like to die? I feel paralysed'."
"The next thing we knew, there was a thud and she was on the floor. It all happened so quickly, it was absolutely horrible."
Samantha Jenkins succumbed to her injuries three days later.

A post-mortem concluded that Samantha had died from natural causes. However, it suggested that her death could be linked due to consuming chewing gum. Despite that link, the post-mortem concluded that there was no need for a full inquest.

According to the Daily Mail, the pathologist suggests that Samantha had suffered a swelling in her brain due to a lack of salt in her system. The pathologist added that low salt levels can be caused by severe diarrhea, and excessive consumption of chewing gum "may have played a role" in making Samantha ill.

Sorbitol, the ingredient in question, has been noted to have side effects such as anal irritation, diarrhea, gas, nausea, and stomach cramps, but has been affirmed as Generally Recognized As Safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is approved for use by the European Union and numerous countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, and Japan.

For Mrs. Morgan, she just wants a definite answer and she hopes that the inquest, which starts next week, will provide that. "The pathologist said a bout of diarrhoea could have caused her salt levels to dip so low it caused her brain to swell."

"His report said chewing gum may have played a role in inducing the diarrhoea. It seems absolutely ridiculous that Sam could have died from chewing gum. But I want to find out the truth - I want to solve the mystery of my daughter's death."
Do you believe the ingredients in a chewing gum could lead to brain swelling?

[Image via Wikipedia]