Aspartame Case Histories
How would you feel if you were dying and no one
knew what to do about it? In 1992, four deaths
were associated with aspartame. How many more
deaths are linked to aspartame today, but no one
knows enough to make the connection.
Eight out of ten of my clients have health symptoms
that disappear when they stop using aspartame.
Hundreds if not thousands of children are suffering
aspartame reactions but dont know how to
tell their parents or teachers why they are feeling
sick, disoriented, confused, and emotional. The
case histories are piling up, and people are now
sharing their personal experiences with others
to help educate those unaware of the reality that
aspartame is harmful to health and wellness.
Currently, the number of deaths from seizures
has substantially increased. There are more seizure-related
emergency transports now than ever before.
Four deaths have been associated with aspartame. How
many more deaths are linked to aspartame today?
The following is a case history taken from Sweet Poison.
Katrina had been complaining of an earache the very
day she went for her three year check up, Wednesday,
January 5, 1994. Her pediatrician checked her ear. "Well,
Mrs. Carradine," the pediatrition stated as she tore
a sheet of paper from a rubber-lined pad. "Katrina appears
to have an ear infection. Take this prescription for
"Katrina has had ear infections before," replied Katrina's
mother, Carmen. "But, she's never complained of so much
pain. Why this time?"
"I really can't answer that question, Mrs. Carradine."
the doctor said somewhat unconcerned. "I'm sure it's
nothing to get worried about."
"Odd things have been happening to Katrina, lately."
Carmen added, sharing her concerns with the doctor.
"Especially Katrina's complaints of a stomach ache almost
daily over the past six to eight weeks."
"Well, if she doesn't improve in a few days," the doctor
responded. "Bring Katrina back in, and we'll run some
Carmen was worried.
Katrina was becoming clumsy, particularly compared
to other children her age. Sometimes, she acted blind,
literally running into things. Occasionally, she fell.
At times, she was hyperactive. Her speech more slurred.
She never acted in a reliable manner. Her mother wondered
if this was typical three year old behavior.
Katrina commonly had loose stools, but over the past
several months was experiencing diarrhea and cramping.
The doctor suggested Katrina see a neurologist regarding
her blinding falls.
Two days later, her ear pain worsened. She continued
falling, once bumping the back of her head quite severely.
She kept complaining her head was hurting where her
ear was infected. Carmen called the pediatrician, who
guessed the antibiotic must not be working. He prescribed
Vantin®, an antibiotic she had used before, and
Tylenol® with codeine. She vomited several times
that night. The Tylenol never had a chance to get into
her system. She couldn't keep anything down. Her parents
waited until morning to start the Vantin, and tried
a second dose of the Tylenol.
Carmen was not convinced Katrina HAD an ear infection.
She believed this time her ear was sore because it was
swollen and red at the ear; not the other way around.
By Saturday, Katrina was lethargic. Carmen held her
most of the day, when she was not sleeping. She would
not eat anything. Her mother managed to get some sugar-free
yogurt down her. Katrina liked yogurt. Carmen hoped
she would keep it down. She vomited several times that
day. She'd sip on a cold diet coke.
Sunday, January 9. The next morning, Katrina was still
very lethargic. Her parents decided to take her back
to the doctor the next morning if she did not improve
that day. At 1:15 pm, Carmen was leaving for work. Katrina
had not gotten out of bed for lunch like normal. Rather
than bothering her sick child, Carmen let her sleep.
She almost left without checking on her, but changed
her mind, checking to see if she was sleeping. Katrina
was lying on her side. As Carmen passed over her, she
saw Katrina staring at the wall. She called her name,
but Katrina did not respond. She said a little louder,
"Katrina?" She still did not move. Carmen called for
Katrina's father, Jay, who had just sat down to give
a bottle to their three-month old baby.
"Jay," she said in panic. "I think something is wrong!"
She turned Katrina over onto her back. She will never
forget what she saw. Her three year old daughter lay
unconscious. Eyes open and glaring. Lips and finger
nails blue. The right side of her face covered with
mucous and saliva from a puddle still pooled on her
Jay rushed to her side, saying, "She's not breathing,
She picked Katrina up. As if in slow motion, they discussed
what to do next. What do they do with the baby? Where
do they lay Katrina? Who was going to give her CPR?
"Carmen, call 911!" screamed Jay.
Within one minute, two policemen ran through the front
door without a knock. Within two minutes, an ambulance
and a fire truck idled outside the house. There were
people everywhere asking questions. Carmen was still
on the line telling the 911 operator what was happening.
The paramedics identified Katrina's left side as totally
paralyzed. They asked Jay and Carmen if they had any
idea why. No one knew what was wrong with Katrina.
Katrina had a seizure while being transported in the
ambulance. She had stopped breathing again. Once in
the emergency room, Katrina was heard saying, "Mommy,
Mommy." Carmen's heart was breaking.
Katrina sat up in her temporary hospital bed, arms
extended for Carmen to hold her. Carmen held her tightly,
fighting tears that would frighten Katrina. As Carmen
lay her back down, Katrina slipped unconscious again
and had to be resuscitated, again. Carmen was asked
to leave as they intubated Katrina. She was given Valium®,
Dilantin®, and Versid®. They performed a CAT
scan. After four hours, Katrina was transferred to Riley
Children's Hospital at Indiana University. She remained
there for six weeks. She was on life support for two
weeks, in ICU for four weeks.
Jay and Carmen received an incredible education during
that six weeks, as well as a new home. The baby went
to live with friends.
Katrina continued to have seizures and apnea the first
day in the hospital. Doctors performed an MRI without
a contrast, but saw nothing. They did a spinal tap.
Nothing. They thought they had her stabilized with anti-convulsants.
They extubated her the next day, moving her to the toddler
Her seizures were not blatantly obvious. Jay and Carmen
had never seen them. Katrina had no jerking of limbs
or any physical effects common to seizures. That night,
she complained of another bad headache. She could get
By 6:00 am the following morning, Katrina started acting
strange. Her hands began to twitch. Carmen held her
while she summoned the nurse. The nurse arrived, but
just stood in place watching Carmen hold Katrina. Carmen
grew angry. "Why don't you do something?" she questioned.
She found out later that the nurse was watching and
timing Katrina's seizure. There was nothing more she
could have done. She was unaware that Carmen had never
seen Katrina have a seizure before.
Within fifteen minutes, Katrina had another seizure,
this time with more arm and mouth movement. Again, fifteen
minutes later, another seizure. This continued until
7:30 am. Back in ICU, Katrina slipped into status epilepticus.
She stopped breathing. They re-intubated and performed
an MRI with a contrast. This time, they finally saw
something. No one knew what it meant, however.
Katrina was put into a Pentobarbital® coma for
one week to stop the status epilepticus. Otherwise,
Katrina could die from the damage to her brain by the
constant seizing. The doctors wanted her brain wave
to be as flat as possible, referred to as 'burst suppression.'
During this time, Katrina was on complete life support
and a constant EEG monitor. She had an arterial line
in her ankle to draw blood hourly to check for blood
gases and drug levels.
She required a blood transfusion to replace what was
being continuously drawn. She had two central lines;
one in her neck and one in her groin area. Each central
line had two lines leading into it. One for feeding,
three for various drugs. Her urine was collected hourly.
Katrina was put into isolation as they suspected she
was contagious. Jay and Carmen were required to wear
masks and gowns to stay with her. What a horrible sight
for her parents to see. Their daughter was almost gone;
gone from them forever. Her soul was floating in space,
somewhere out in space. It was a long, long time before
she came back.
Jay and Carmen wanted answers! They asked the doctors
WHY their daughter was sick. WHAT suddenly caused this?
They complained of being kept in the dark. No one offered
them any explanations. As if disruptive children, they
were beratedly told, "Look, we have a live child to work
with here. She could easily be dead. You're lucky. Don't
complain. All you can do for Katrina is support her.
You'll just have to wait and see what happens."
At this time, they were informed that 60% of the children
that come to Riley for diagnosis never get one. "So,
don't get your hopes up."
For the two weeks in a coma and on life support, Katrina's
family didn't know whether she would live or die. If
she did live, could they keep this from happening again?
No one could give them any answers.
When Carmen was not at the hospital, she was searching
for the answers. She went to the medical library, continuously
reading articles, books, and research trying to help
her daughter. Like the doctors, she found nothing.
Jay drove to Chicago late one night to have a friend
run a test on some of Katrina's blood. He thought she
may have lead poisoning. Nothing.
They had their furnace checked for carbon monoxide
leaks. They checked her blood for that, too. Nothing.
Chocolate. A friend mentioned an article she had recently
read on theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate. She
knew Katrina had an unsatiable, almost embarrassing,
craving for candy. Another friend suggested a possible
carnitine deficiency. Nothing.
Test upon test were run on Katrina. Jay and Carmen
lost tract of them all. And, the cost! Katrina had a
CAT scan, three MRIs, three spinal taps, and so many
EEGs, Jay and Carmen lost count.
Katrina soon developed problems with her liver. A liver
biopsy was performed. A muscle tissue biopsy was also
done. An opthamologist was called in to check for a
Kayser-Fleischer ring indicating Wilson's Disease. Nothing.
A cytogenetic test was performed, an abdominal ultrasound
of her liver and gall bladder. A VER and BSER were performed.
The list goes on and on and on. Nothing.
Katrina had an infectious disease specialist diagnose
her with non-infectious encephalitis. Her pediatric
pulmonologists agreed she had encephalitis, but believed
it to be viral. The three spinal taps did not support
that opinion, however.
Katrina was then followed by a gastrointerologist and
a neurologist. The neurologist's final impression on
April 15 was "Status-post status epilepticus of unknown
etiology with evidence of a meningo encephalitis on
After Katrina came out of a coma, Carmen rocked her,
talked to her, read to her, played music for her, and
waited days upon days for her to 'come back' from the
deep sedation. Just to hold her again....
The time at the hospital spent waiting for Katrina
to get better flew by quickly thanks to the constant
flow of friends who came to keep Jay and Carmen occupied.
No one could offer answers, only support and love.
Answers. Who knew the answer to why Katrina was suddenly
fatally ill? What caused this to happen in the first
place? Katrina was always healthy. Other than ear infections
and the unusual symptoms over the past two and one-half
months leading up to her hospitalization, she was a
model baby. Who or what's to blame?
Jay and Carmen pondered the fate of their child. What
do they do next? What's the fate of their second child?
Katrina was finally released from the hospital after
eight weeks. Over $300,000 of unanswered care. Her parents
brought her home with little to go on. They didn't know
what caused her near-death experience or if it would
ever occur again. The doctors never determined what
The doctors wanted Katrina to remain on anticonvulsants
for a lack of anything else to do. After being on life
support for two weeks, six weeks at Riley Children's
Hospital, being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital
for another two weeks, no answers.
Six weeks of tests, including three lumbar punctures,
constant EEGs, a liver biopsy, a muscled tissue biopsy,
Echocardiography, Genetic Screenings, Abdominal Ultrasounds
of an enlarged liver and high enzyme readings, four
MRIs, tests for Wilson's Disease, Herpes and Hepatitis,
hourly blood tests, daily blood tests, lead poisoning
tests, carbon monoxide poisoning tests, cytogenetic
tests, and countless others the Carradines didn't even
know about: NOTHING. An infectious disease specialist
saw Katrina for a while, but found NOTHING.
Katrina's final diagnosis was meningo encephalitis
of unknown etiology. No virus found. No bacterial infection
discovered. The doctors talked of a possible toxin,
but it was never pursued.
Katrina was finally home. But, for how long?
In July, 1994, the Carradine's moved to Dallas, Texas.
A new friend and neighbor suggested Katrina's symptoms
were reactions to aspartame. She gave Carmen an article
published by a consumer group concerned about NutraSweet
safety, the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network. Handing
her the ACSN's telephone number, she said, "It couldn't
hurt to check it out."
Jay and Carmen were interested in all the information
they could get. For the first time since Katrina's illness,
they found some answers that made sense.
Katrina occasionally had Kool Aid® with aspartame.
Carmen fed her yogurt with aspartame when sugar-sweetened
was not available. Katrina took sips of Jay's diet drinks.
Carmen used aspartame some during pregnancy. Her OB/GYN
said it was fine. None of these foods were given to
Katrina regularly, maybe once or twice a week. Where
could she have gotten enough aspartame to create such
Carmen called the NutraSweet Company to ask if they
had ever received complaints like hers. They claimed
to have no idea what she was talking about. They mailed
her brochures advertising all the products NutraSweet
is found in, professing complete aspartame safety.
The information told her the answer. She knew how Katrina
got ill! Katrina's daily children's multiple vitamins
contained aspartame. Carmen never knew they contained
aspartame because the chewable vitamins were not labeled
Carmen bought the popular children's vitamin for Katrina
in October and religiously gave them to her until January
9. On October 13, a few days after she started the vitamins,
Katrina was taken to the emergency room with a concussion.
She had 'stumbled' and fallen. She began developing
strange repercussions. She had a hard time standing.
She'd stand in one spot with her finger pointed out,
turning in circles and mumbling. Carmen talked to the
pediatrician about Katrina's strange reflexes. To test
Carmen's concerns, the pediatrician asked Katrina 'who
her mommy was.' Katrina went over to the nurse, pointed,
and called her 'mommy.'
Katrina could no longer see well. She began to develop
earaches, often. Her mother started Katrina on a children's
pain reliever, unaware IT also contained aspartame.
Katrina was given vitamins and pain relievers containing
aspartame without her mother's knowledge. More vitamins,
more aspartame, more earaches, more sugar-free pain
Home from the hospital, Katrina was on prescribed anticonvulsants.
Carmen did not start her back on vitamins until she
weaned her completely from the medication. Seizure free
for over one year, Carmen started Katrina back on her
favorite chewable vitamins. One week later, the same
symptoms as before her illness reappeared. Katrina began
complaining of stomach pains and diarrhea, she began
stumbling and falling down.
About this time, Carmen was first introduced to information
concerning aspartame. She began to put two and two together.
Was aspartame in Katrina's vitamins? Yes, but why? Katrina
didn't need sugar-free vitamins. Carmen took the vitamins
away from Katrina, and her returning symptoms disappeared.
The coincidence of all!
Katrina suffered from acute toxicity, lethargy, confusion,
impairment of articulation, sever headaches, abdominal
pain, vertigo, and temporary visual loss. All symptoms
of aspartame toxicity. Katrina also had nausea, unsteady
gate, and unusually high liver enzyme levels.
Katrina. She has suffered so much, and has a hard life
ahead of her. She is in need of speech therapy. Her
behavior is unpredictable. She requires special schooling.
Her diet will have to be watched very closely from now
on. Her parents must scrutinize all her meals and snacks.
Eating out is risky; who knows what additives are found
in contemporary foods.
Katrina can never have aspartame again. It is hidden
in so many things. Her life will never be the same.
April 6, 1995
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network
PO Box 780634
Dallas, Texas 75378
After talking with you a few weeks ago, I felt a kind
of excitement and relief because I was FINALLY getting
an answer to what happened to my daughter in January
of 1994. Just 10 days after her third birthday, she
nearly died, and would have had my husband not known
CPR, and had an ambulance and medical team not been
only two blocks away...
Is my child's life worth nothing? It makes me very,
very angry that the FDA has allowed something to be
put into my children's food that can harm them and even
take their lives. The FDA knows it has already taken
lives. Are millions of dollars being spent buying up
books and other literature so the public doesn't have
a chance to read the truth?
I am very grateful to have been informed, and I know
from our prior experience that my child could be dead
by now if the ACSN had not chosen to speak out. Katrina
had so many symptoms listed on the FDA complaint list,
I knew immediately, without a doubt, she was a victim
of aspartame poisoning. I knew it, even before I figured
out where she was getting her largest, regular dose
It was helpful for me to be able to put down the words,
kind of like therapy. I will remain in contact and will
do what I can to help you in your efforts to let people
know the dangers of aspartame. Thank you for your help,
and advice, and for listening!
Yours very truly,
In 1998, Janet Starr Hull approached Carmen Carradine
to help in the organization of Children Harmed By Aspartame.
If you or someone you know has a child who has been
permanently damaged by the artificial sweetener aspartame,
please contact Sweet Poison's web site: www.sweetpoison.com
for information on how to receive assistance, or write:
CHILDREN HARMED BY ASPARTAME
PO Box 239
Melissa, Texas 75454.
The following is a case history taken from Sweet Poison.
December 7, 1987. Patty Crain was a beautiful girl.
She enjoyed a normal and healthy life until she mysteriously
dropped dead at age twenty-three. Cause: Death Unknown.
Patty's mother, Betty Hailand, witnessed the tragedy
Patty was Betty's adopted daughter. She was the 'All-American
girl.' Suddenly out of nowhere, Patty developed eye
problems, experiencing blurred vision accompanied by
bad headaches. Betty took Patty to have her eyes examined.
The doctor found nothing wrong with her eyesight. Patty
and Betty were frustrated because they knew something
One day after work, Patty returned to her apartment
complaining that her vision was intolerably blurred,
and she was experiencing unbearable head pain. She progressively
grew worse through the night and willingly admitted
herself to the hospital emergency room early the next
morning. The E.R. doctor diagnosed Patty with a common
case of the flu. He routinely ordered medication for
her nausea, immediately prescribed IVs to be administered
to her while in the E.R. for severe dehydration (she
required three IVs), and sent her home after they had
done all they could for her. She was told to drink plenty
of liquids, which she always did - plenty of diet drinks.
She went home and drank countless diet colas to sate
Two days later, Patty's health was returning to normal.
Two days after that, Patty was dead on the floor of
her apartment. Apparently, she died while home from
work around 4:00 P.M. Her hands tightly clinched and
her tongue sharply bitten. Empty diet drink cans scattered
throughout her apartment.
There was no official cause for the grand mal seizure
that ended Patty's life at age twenty-three, but Betty
knew what killed her daughter. She always maintained
Patty died from the aspartame found in NutraSweet diet
Betty charged that her daughter was addicted to aspartame.
Patty incessantly drank no fewer than six diet drinks
every day and perpetually added in excess of five packets
of Equal® to one glass of iced tea.
Betty never stopped believing her daughter's death
was connected to her heavy consumption of aspartame.
In the memory of her daughter's 'cause of death unknown'
as stated on her death certificate, Betty devotedly
battled The NutraSweet Company and fought the suppression
of information concerning the dangers connected to this
chemical sweetener. As a mother fighting for her child,
Betty never gave up the battle to prove she was right.
In 1991, Betty was found shot to death in her Vista,
California home. She was taking a bath when her assailant
broke into the bathroom and shot her while she was in
the bathtub. To date, the L.A. police have not apprehended