South West Wales

Chewing gum may have played role in Samantha Jenkins' death

Samantha Jenkins Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Samantha Jenkins's mother, Maria Morgan, had wanted her death to be investigated

Chewing gum "may have played a role" in the death of a Carmarthenshire teenager, an inquest has heard.

Samantha Jenkins, 19, from Llanelli, collapsed and fell into a coma before dying days later in hospital in 2011.

Pathologist Dr Paul Griffiths told an inquest in Swansea on Tuesday she had low calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium levels, which may have been the result of malabsorption caused by chewing gum in her stomach.

A narrative conclusion was recorded.

Her mother, Maria Morgan, had previously called for her death to be investigated amid claims her daughter's chewing gum habit played a part.

Colin Phillips, acting senior coroner for Swansea, said the cause of death was a shortage of oxygen to her brain, resulting from a convulsion caused by an imbalance of minerals in her body.

"Excessive consumption of chewing gum may have played a role in inducing this lack of minerals or mineral depletion," he said.

'Young and vibrant'

However, he made no definitive finding that it ultimately triggered her death after hearing it could not be proved.

Mrs Morgan said she believed her daughter died due to consuming excessive quantities of sweeteners, aspartame and sorbital, which are contained in some gum.

She told the inquest she found dozens of empty packets of gum among her daughter's possessions after her death.

Mrs Morgan said she first felt "ridiculous" suggesting it may have something to do with her passing.

But she then thought it was "worth mentioning" because doctors were "baffled" by Miss Jenkins's sudden collapse.

She said: "My daughter was a vibrant, happy, fun-loving 19-year-old who had her whole life ahead of her.

"She had no idea whatsoever that she was slowly killing herself. The last four years have been a living hell on earth, waiting for answers."

Mrs Morgan added: "I just want answers for my beautiful little girl so that my family can finally have closure and maybe the public response could make changes in awareness of these additives."

The coroner apologised to Miss Jenkins's family for the "unacceptable" delay in the time it took for the inquest to take place.

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