Did a Child with Asthma Die After Parents Switched to Essential Oils as Treatment?

A popular cautionary tale about a child dying after his asthma medication was swapped for essential oils has not been corroborated.

Claim

A child died in June 2018 because his parents used essential oils to treat his asthma.

Rating

Origin

On 3 June 2018, a Twitter user relayed a story about an asthmatic child who purportedly died when his parents substituted unspecified essential oils for asthma medications:

Screenshots of the tweet circulated independently on other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Reddit (multiple times.) The Twitter user who first shared the claim regularly tweets about purported interactions and incidents in an unidentified emergency room.

Others commented on the tweet asking for corroborating information, sometimes suggesting that if a child died in the described manner that the incident would be at least locally newsworthy:

Although the story proved popular, the author did not respond to requests for additional information, whether from media outlets or users looking for the article referenced in the tweet. They did not provide a specific location or any back story, although earlier tweets indicated that the poster might live or work in the Atlanta area. Previous Twitter-related tales of hospital horrors have gone similarly unverified (likely due at least in part to privacy laws.) A 2015 blog post written by a physician tackled the same topic, but his post did not mention any deaths.

 It is possible that the claim was accurate as relayed, but it is just as possible that the story was fabricated as a warning against the use of essential oils in lieu of medically necessary interventions. 

  • Hayes, Chad.   “Don’t Use Essential Oils For Asthma. Here’s Why.”
        KevinMD.com.   22 April 2015.

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