If your newborn child was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed Enfamil infant formula or Similac infant formula, your family may be eligible to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit.
Enfamil and Similac products (manufactured by Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories, respectively) have been strongly associated with the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies. Cow’s milk-based formulas like these have been linked to preventable illnesses and deaths in newborn infants across the country. Despite the known dangers, lawsuits claim that these manufacturers failed to make the hazards of their products known to consumers. In fact, these products were specifically marketed as safe for the infants who suffered harm.
Thomas Law Offices is currently representing families who have endured the loss or illness of a child who was fed cow milk-based infant formula. Our attorneys remain up-to-date on emerging developments in NEC litigation. We are experienced, knowledgeable, and well-equipped to help your family attain justice after a preventable tragedy.
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What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal disease most commonly observed in premature infants. This is a serious, potentially-fatal health complication. Intestines become inflamed, infected, and unable to complete normal digestive functions. Infants may suffer necrosis (tissue death) in the bowels. The bowels can be completely destroyed, leading to severe infection which can enter the infant’s bloodstream and spread throughout the body. At this stage, the illness becomes extremely serious. Necrotizing enterocolitis that progresses to later stages is often fatal.
Parents of premature babies diagnosed with NEC after being fed cow’s milk products may be eligible to file a claim against the Enfamil and Similac baby formula manufacturing companies.
If your child suffered illness or death, a necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawyer from Thomas Law Offices may be able to help.
In order to qualify to file an NEC lawsuit, you must be able to prove that:
- Your child was born prematurely.
- Your child was fed cow’s milk-based Enfamil or Similac infant formula.
- Your child suffered injury or death after an NEC diagnosis.
Are Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Lawsuits Currently Being Filed?
As of March 2022, there are dozens of formula lawsuits currently pending in federal courts across the country. In 2021, roughly 50 lawsuits were filed against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson.
As of yet, there is no class action lawsuit against the Enfamil or Similac manufacturing companies, only individual product liability lawsuits. Both Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson have filed motions to have cases consolidated in what is known as Multi-District Litigation, or MDL. This would mean all cases would be brought before a single judge. A decision to consolidate cases has not yet been reached, but it is likely that a class action will be based in either Connecticut or Illinois.
The current lawsuits are not the first to be filed against these infant formula companies. As early as 2011, a necrotizing enterocolitis infant formula lawsuit was resolved in a Massachusetts court with a $7,050,000 verdict. Michigan, New York, California, Louisiana, and Florida have also seen NEC-related cases ending in settlements and verdicts as high as $10 million.
The NEC infant formula lawyers at Thomas Law Offices continue to keep our clients informed about changes in baby formula litigation. We are actively advocating for families of premature infants fed cow milk-based formulas. Similac and Enfamil formula NEC lawsuits can bring the security and justice families need after illness or loss.
What Causes NEC?
Necrotizing enterocolitis does not have one, single cause. In many cases, it is impossible to definitively determine cause. There are, however, factors that substantially increase the likelihood that an infant will develop NEC.
Most babies who suffer NEC were born prematurely. Of those cases, a high number of the babies were fed cow’s milk-based baby formulas. There is strong research to support the link between bovine-based baby formula use and NEC. The probability that a premature baby will be diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis significantly increases when they are fed cow milk-based formula over human breast milk.
Scientific studies providing evidence that cow’s milk infant formulas are linked to NEC in preterm infants have been steadily published over the past 30 years. The more we learn about the effect bovine milk products have on low-birth-weight infants, the clearer the dangers become. Despite the overwhelming evidence, baby formula manufacturers have neglected to warn parents of these known risks.
Human Breast Milk Versus Cow Milk Formula and NEC
Cow milk formulas do not directly cause necrotizing enterocolitis, but they substantially increase the chances that a premature baby will develop NEC. A recent study published in October 2021 found new evidence that preterm infants who receive cow milk formulas are at a much higher risk of NEC than their peers fed only human breast milk. Also, in 2021, another research study determined that one case of NEC could be prevented for every ten infants who received an exclusively human breast milk diet.
These studies join multiple others in firmly establishing that formula-fed babies face significant NEC risks. Formula feeding among premature infants has been heavily studied in the past few decades. Research published on the association between cow’s milk-based formulas and necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies includes:
- 1990: A study published in The Lancet magazine found that premature infants fed cow’s milk formula were up to ten times more likely to be diagnosed with NEC.
- 2010: A study titled “An exclusively human milk-based diet is associated with a lower rate of necrotizing enterocolitis than a diet of human milk and bovine milk-based products” determined that human milk-fed babies were 90% less likely to develop NEC.
- 2011: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding named NEC one of the leading health risks associated with feeding premature infants cow’s milk-based formulas. The Call to Action warned that a premature infant not given human breast milk is up to 138% more likely to suffer NEC.
- 2014: A study on feeding strategies for premature birth infants further verified that the chance of a premature infant developing NEC is increased by bovine milk formulas.
- 2015: This research study established the mother’s breast milk as the most effective feeding strategy to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis.
- 2016: An exclusive human milk diet was associated with dramatically lower NEC rates in a study conducted on 1,587 infants in four U.S. states.
- 2019: The premature babies involved in the study were found to be roughly seven times more likely to develop NEC when fed cow milk baby formulas over human milk.
This knowledge of the dangers of baby formula use in low-birth-weight newborns is widely-recognized and scientifically-proven. Because of this, legal action has been taken against the manufacturing companies that failed to publicize or acknowledge the risks associated with their products. Many parents and lawyers have chosen to file NEC infant formula lawsuits to bring attention to a severe problem that has resulted in numerous preventable infant deaths.
Why Are Premature Infants More Vulnerable to NEC?
Premature babies have much higher rates of NEC diagnoses than full-term infants. Consider the following statistics:
- Nine out of ten infants diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis were born preterm.
- Only about one in 10,000 infants diagnosed with NEC were full-term babies.
It is most likely that a premature baby will develop NEC within the first two to six weeks after birth. It’s estimated that roughly 5-12% of premature infants are affected by NEC.
Preterm babies are generally born with lower birth weights and weaker immune and digestive systems than full-term infants. This causes them to be more vulnerable to intestinal infections. When the intestine doesn’t have time to fully mature before birth, it may be highly susceptible to a number of complications. A genetic defect, a viral or bacterial infection, a traumatic injury, and the use of baby formula instead of breastmilk in the neonatal intensive care unit may lead to NEC.
Regardless of other factors, a preterm infant is more likely to be diagnosed with NEC if they were fed baby formula instead of human breastmilk. A preterm infant fed Similac or similar cow’s milk-based infant formulas is at significant risk of intestinal illness. NEC baby formula lawsuits recognize that, other factors put aside, the role of the product is closely linked to the baby’s diagnosis. And because the manufacturing company failed to recognize and warn of this link, families across the country are filing NEC infant formula lawsuits.
What Are the Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Infants?
A baby diagnosed with NEC may exhibit symptoms including:
- Feeding intolerance
- Low blood pressure
- Body temperature instability
- Blood in stool
- Irregular bowel movements
- Abdominal swelling
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Green or yellow bile in abdominal walls or vomit
- Apnea (pauses in breathing)
- Inability to gain weight
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a progressive disease that worsens with time. The symptoms of NEC may appear suddenly or develop gradually. The more premature and underdeveloped babies are at birth, the higher their risk of fatality after an NEC diagnosis.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis Fatality Rates
The NIH Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center (GARD) has published information about fatality rates in infants diagnosed with NEC.
- Newborns at least 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) in weight have a mortality rate of 0% to 20%.
- Infants weighing less than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) have a mortality rate of 10% to over 50%, depending on NEC severity and overall health condition.
- Extremely low birth rate infants weighing 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds) experience mortality rates of 40% to 100%.
If you have a baby diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis because a company failed to publish information about NEC risks, you’re not alone. Too many parents across the country have lost newborn children to a disease that could have been prevented. The NEC risks for formula-fed babies are well known in the scientific community and must be recognized by the companies that profit from formula products. Even if an infant recovers from NEC, they may be facing years of health complications.
What Long-Term Health Complications Are Associated With NEC?
Most babies who survive necrotizing enterocolitis suffer the effects of the illness throughout their lifetimes. Long-term complications associated with NEC include:
Short Bowel Syndrome
Preterm babies fed cow-based formula may suffer mild, moderate, or severe short bowel syndrome due to NEC. This is a condition in which the infant’s body is unable to properly absorb nutrients because there isn’t enough small intestine.
Babies who are given cow’s milk formulas in infanthood and develop NEC are not able to absorb vital nutrients at a critical stage of life. Studies have linked infant malnutrition with complications including poor physical health, developmental impairment, attention disorders, and higher risk of chronic disease and mortality.
In addition to the above-listed health complications that can persist into adulthood, babies undernourished due to NEC are likely to develop at a slower rate than their peers. Because of malabsorption (when the intestines can’t absorb nutrients properly), a baby will often struggle to grow and develop at a normal rate. Head circumference, weight, length, and mental development may be affected by NEC.
As mentioned, cognitive impairment can be an effect of NEC in an infant fed cow-based baby formula. It’s estimated that nearly half of NEC survivors suffer neurodevelopmental defects. Impaired brain function is one of the most serious long-term effects seen in children who recover from an early case of NEC. Researchers are currently focusing on strategies to protect patients from cognitive impairments associated with NEC.
NEC can cause liver dysfunction that may last long after recovery from the illness. Liver disease may include inflammation and an inability to produce bile. Studies have been conducted to look for ways to stimulate liver regeneration after NEC-induced liver injury.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is caused by mineral abnormalities in the body. This can occur due to poor mineral intake in the early weeks of life after birth. Premature babies with NEC are likely to experience reduced mineral accretion. MBD is associated with rickets, bone fractures, lower peak bone mass, impaired growth, poor respiratory outcomes, and susceptibility to chronic disease.
How Can a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Baby Formula Lawsuit Help Parents?
It’s impossible to describe the mental and emotional anguish parents suffer when they learn their newborn child has been diagnosed with NEC. Knowing that the disease could have been prevented had the infant not been given cow’s milk-based products only makes the pain more difficult to bear. Many parents have filed necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawsuits against the companies that concealed scientific information in an effort to increase profits.
Filing an NEC infant formula lawsuit can help bring awareness to a critical problem and prevent other infants from suffering the same fate. It can also provide families with the financial compensation they need to give their children the best medical care. If a family loses a child to necrotizing enterocolitis, a baby formula lawsuit settlement can help cover funeral and burial costs.
Companies that manufacture infant formulas made from cow’s milk have a duty to warn consumers of the known risks. When manufacturers make the decision to withhold information for the purpose of increasing sales, newborn NEC formula lawsuits can be invaluable in fighting wrongdoing. Legal action can hold negligence accountable, warn others of the product’s risks, and protect countless premature infants from being subjected to a dangerous and often fatal condition.
Which Companies Are Facing Baby Formula Lawsuits?
Two infant formula brands are currently facing NEC lawsuits. They are Enfamil and Similac. Enfamil is manufactured by Mead Johnson Nutrition and Similac is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories. Neither of these brands provides NEC warning labels on their cow’s milk-based infant formula products.
Both Abbott and Mead Johnson formula products contain cow’s milk and are marketed to infants. Yet the labels fail to mention any risks associated with the use of these products for preterm babies.
On the contrary, most of these products are explicitly marketed for premature infants. Mead Johnson advertises its Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula as the “best” formula for premature babies. Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier uses cow’s milk to increase protein and other nutrient levels and is marketed for “feeding premature or low birth weight infants.”
Parents of infants who were given these products and developed NEC may be entitled to file an infant formula lawsuit with the help of an attorney.
- Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal High Protein
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 30 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 20 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil 24 Cal Infant Formula
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac NeoSure Formula
- Similac Special Care 20, 24, 24 High Protein, or 30
- Similac Expert Care Alimentum Hypoallergenic Formula
- Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid
This is a tragic example of corporate greed leading to needless fatality. Even medical providers rely on the label information published by the manufacturer to ensure that products are administered appropriately. This essential information warns consumers of any harm the product might cause, and any demographic groups for which the product is unsuitable for use.
A caregiver’s ability to choose safe products is taken away when vital information is withheld. Knowing the risks associated with a product is more important than ever when infant nutrition products are involved. These manufacturing companies produce, market, and sell cow’s milk-based nutrition products targeting vulnerable preterm infants. Companies like this must be held to the highest standards of accountability when infants’ lives are at stake.
Compensation in NEC Infant Formula Lawsuits
A premature baby fed Similac, Enfamil formula, or other milk-based formulas may be facing a lifetime of medical expenses after NEC. In the infant formula trials going on all across the country, parents are working to hold negligent companies accountable and to obtain financial compensation to cover the expenses they may otherwise never be able to afford. Similar to medical malpractice lawsuits, baby formula lawsuits seek recovery for losses such as medical bills, hospitals stays, prescription medications, pain and suffering, therapy and rehabilitation, and more.
Choosing the Right NEC Baby Formula Lawyers
Similac and Enfamil baby formula lawsuits filed against the Abbot and Mead Johnson companies require a great deal of legal expertise. Parents filing baby formula lawsuits need to know they have a lawyer they can trust to achieve a successful case outcome. NEC lawsuits have the power to do a great deal of good, but they are not always easy to win. Our law firm specializes in newborn formula lawsuits because we know legal action is often the only way that justice for families can be achieved.
NEC baby injury lawsuits are currently being accepted at Thomas Law Offices. Our baby formula lawyers fight for parents whose children were injured by corporate negligence. If you lost a child to NEC, we can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit. Our attorneys are caring, experienced, highly skilled, and sensitive to the needs of parents who are experiencing extreme tragedy after the birth of a newborn.
Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers are ready to answer your questions.