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And In The End, Peanut Butter Was Not To Blame

(AP / CBS)
Remember this story? "Teen Dies After Kissing Boyfriend"? "Kiss Kills Teenager With Peanut Allergy"?

Of course, the tabloids definitely had the most arresting headlines: "ALLERGY TEEN'S FATAL KISS", screamed the New York Post. And the British tabs? "NUTTY KISS KILLS GIRL" from the Daily Record. "The kiss of death for girl with nut allergy" wrote the Times of London. And this stroke of headline brilliance from The Daily Telegraph of London: "Kiss of death for nut allergy girl".

It was a hot topic on all the morning shows as well and ABC's World News Tonight also did a story on what French Canadian newspapers were calling "'Un Baiser Fatal' — a fatal kiss."

But just about five months later, as it turns out, the ill-fated peanut butter kiss was not to blame after all. Reports the Associated Press:

A Canadian coroner confirmed Thursday that a teenager — once believed to have died from a peanut allergy after kissing her boyfriend — died from an asthma attack.

Coroner Michael Miron said Christina Desforges, 15, died from cerebral anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, triggered by a severe asthma attack.

In a preliminary report in March, Miron rejected a peanut allergy as the cause of death, saying he suspected cerebral anoxia. But he provided no further details.

The 15-year-old girl stopped breathing on Nov. 20 after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten a peanut butter snack. Official findings at the time linked the death to a peanut allergy, drawing widespread media attention.

But Miron said the initial report that lingering peanut allergens from that kiss triggered an allergic reaction was wrong.

"Nine hours passed between the time when the young man ate his two toasts (with peanut butter) and 3 a.m., when he kissed Christina," Miron said. "A recent study shows at the end of an hour, there is no allergen left in the saliva."

He said she had spent hours at a party with smokers when her breathing problems began. Around 3 a.m., Desforges said she was having trouble breathing and collapsed shortly after.

She was taken to the hospital, but the coroner estimates her brain was deprived of oxygen for 25 to 30 minutes. She was taken off life support nine days later.

Miron explained that in March [he] broke the usual silence preceding the full release of a coroner's report to clarify the erroneous reports about the allergy. He said the reports were triggering suspicions that injections used to treat allergic reactions were ineffective.

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