After losing her 13-year-old daughter, Diane Robarts is speaking out to help other mothers and fathers understand the risks of tampon use, and to also recognize the symptoms of a deadly disease, Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). According to the Manchester Evening News, Jemma-Louise, began feeling ill and was originally diagnosed with a stomach bug.
After the British teenager’s health continued to deteriorate, her family brought her to a hospital where she was diagnosed with TSS, caused by bacteria related to tampon use. Jemma-Louise, a competitive swimmer, had reportedly begun using tampons not long before her illness because they allowed her to continue training throughout her menstrual cycle. A week after her diagnosis, in March 2014, Jemma-Louise died of a brain bleed while on a heart and lung machine, according to the paper. Blood tests before she died showed evidence of the staphylococcus bacteria, linked to TSS and sepsis.
A spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Aaron Glatt MD, told Yahoo News that “while TSS is something to be aware of, it shouldn’t scare teenagers from using tampons entirely.” He says tampons are safe to use and adds:
“At the same time, there is a potential risk of toxic shock syndrome with the more absorbent, heaver tampons because people think they can leave them in for longer periods of time.”
“If you are not feeling well — if you have a rash, if you have high fevers, if you are confused, go to your doctor as soon as possible,”
Wouldn’t it be safer to say, “Call your doctor and if you can’t reach him/her, go directly to the emergency room?” And wouldn’t it make perfect sense to require the makers of feminine products to reveal exactly what’s contained in their products? We are a nation where the health and welfare of women often take a backseat in safety standards and priority. In a recent article, CNN’s Nadia Kounang reports:
Consumer groups in the United States have been wanting to know more since the 1980s. A growing environmental movement and awareness about toxic shock syndrome prompted women to ask what was in these products because manufacturers weren't required to fully disclose what goes into a tampon or pad. That's because they are regulated and approved as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration and full disclosure is not required.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Dem-NY) has introduced legislation that would require manufacturers to fully disclose the makeup of feminine products.
“American women deserve the ability to make informed decisions when buying feminine hygiene products,” said Maloney. “Given the sheer number of women who use these products it’s time we have definitive answers on their potential risks to women. Although the FDA requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, we still don’t know enough about the health risks of other chemical contaminants contained in these products. The Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act would enable research and a better understanding of additives in these products so that women can live healthy lives.”
Learn more about Rep. Maloney’s bill via MaloneyHouse.Gov. You can email/visit the lawmaker here: Rep. Carolyn Maloney
In the meantime, here are some tips from Women’s Voices For Earth, an organization relentlessly advocating for women’s rights and feminine product transparency:
Reduce Your Exposure
Avoid Hall of Shame products
Print our Chemicals of Concern fact sheet and take it with you when shopping for feminine care products.
Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance.
Reduce your use of feminine care products.
Eliminate use of products that may be unnecessary to a healthy vagina.
Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads).
Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads.
If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands! When you do switch – call the company’s 1-800 customer service to tell them why!
Tell the FDA if you’ve had symptoms that may be from a feminine care product. Call 1-800-332-1088 or fill out a consumer reporting form. .
The bottomline: As important as it is to listen and learn from our doctors and experts in the medical field, women must also be their own healthcare advocates, listen to their intuition, and demand the highest safety standards for themselves and every female in this country and around the world.
To learn more, visit: Women’s Voices For Earth.
Please share this information with the teen girls and women in your lives.
Condolences to the family of Jemma-Louise and all those who’ve lost a child or loved one to Toxic Shock Syndrome and/or any deadly condition stemming from the use of feminine products.