NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

Parents are suing formula manufacturers Similac and Enfamil after their preemies who became sick or died from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed cows’ milk-based formulas or fortifiers.

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Why File A Baby Formula Lawsuit?

Losing a child is every person’s worst nightmare. And bringing up a little one with irreparable sickness has its own challenges.

A NEC lawsuit won’t bring back your healthy infant, but it can send a message to manufacturers that irresponsibility is unacceptable. Holding Abbott and Mead accountable means potential financial compensation for the anguish of losing a child’s life or good health, potentially helping cover expenses of raising a child with lifelong health challenges.

If your premature baby was diagnosed with NEC after being fed formula, contact us now.

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Risk of NEC Is Steep for Preterm Infants Fed “Gentle, Safe” Cows’ Milk-Based Formulas.

NEC is the most common gastrointestinal condition among preterm newborns (born before 37 weeks) and especially babies with very low birthweight (born before 30 weeks, weighing 3 lb. 4 oz or less). An estimated 480,000 preterm births occur every year in the United States. About one in 12 is low birth weight, according to the NIH (National Institutes of Health). Among this cross-section, the risk of developing NEC is 6-10 times higher with up to 50% of cases resulting in death and 20%-40% requiring surgery.

“This disorder is growing in global relevance as birth rates and survival of babies with low gestational age improve.” NIH reported in December 2021.

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What is the Baby Formula Lawsuit?

All three litigants (Abbott, Mead and parents on behalf of their newborns) have requested existing cases be consolidated into federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). The multidistrict judicial panel (JPML) in Washington, D.C. has not yet ruled. Central to the case is the allegation that manufacturers “knew or should have known” their cows’ milk-based products spike(d) premature infants’ chances of developing NEC.

Among the formulas in question are Similac Special Care (Abbott), Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier (Mead) and Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula (Mead).

These particular brands are marketed as custom-tailored for preterm, low birth weight infants’ needs – and most importantly, safe.

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The Formula Game.

“Formula milk and tobacco are the only two products for which there are international guidelines to prevent [deceptive] marketing,” says a largest-of-its-kind report released in February 2022. Authored by WHO and UNICEF, it’s titled, “How marketing of formula milk influences our decisions on infant feeding.”

Abbott and Mead, who together monopolize the industry, are charged in the baby formula lawsuit with aggressive and misleading marketing practices, in part why 56% of U.S. infants are, de facto, fed their cows’ milk-based formulas in NICUs and why so many care providers recommend them. The science is irrefutable: breastfed preterm babies rarely contract NEC, while cows’ milk formulas can create intestinal overload rendering an infant 10 times more susceptible.

What Causes NEC?

Premature newborns with very low birthweight have extremely delicate digestive systems and represent 90% of NEC cases. While breastmilk evolves every second with a baby’s changing needs, imitation human milk can never compete. For example, human milk is 60% liquid for gentle digestion, compared with cow’s milk, which is 60% solid. The latter is denser and more apt to overload underdeveloped intestinal tracts, potentially impacting them with half-digested milk solids.

When formula sits undigested in the intestine, bacteria ferments, inflaming and killing (necrotizing) intestinal tissues, burning holes through the intestinal wall into the stomach cavity where worsening infection may spread to other organs or enter the bloodstream.

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Diagnosis:

NEC is sometimes difficult to spot in early stages, but early diagnosis is critical to survival. Early diagnosis can be confirmed through blood tests, fecal tests or X-rays. First symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain, swelling, redness, sensitivity (perhaps sudden)
  • Changes in heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing
  • Diarrhea with bloody stool
  • Green or yellow vomit (bile)
  • Lethargy, decreased activity
  • Resistance, refusal to eat and lack of weight gain

Treating NEC:

The moment NEC is diagnosed, a five-alarm sounds in NICU. What happens next:

  • Oral and enteral (tube) feedings immediately stopped to let the intestines temporarily rest
  • Nasogastric or orogastric drainage (inserting a tube through the nose or mouth into the stomach to remove air and fluid from the stomach and intestine)
  • IV for fluid replacement and nutrition
  • IV antibiotics to prevent or stop infection
  • Consultation with a pediatric surgeon to discuss surgery, if needed
  • Emergency surgery in 20%-40% of cases to remove/resection diseased or dead tissue
  • Frequent exams and abdominal X-rays

Surviving NEC:

If your baby survives, the child may tragically suffer lifelong afflictions, especially if NEC surgery is required, including:

  • Recurring infections, including abdominal and blood (systemic)
  • Intestinal stricture (narrowing of intestinal tract making passage difficult)
  • Short bowel, or short gut, syndrome (insufficient length of intestinal tract for food assimilation resulting from necrotized tissue removal)
  • Growth failure and neurodevelopmental delays (especially after surgery)

If your premature infant was fed formula and developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), you may be able to file a lawsuit. Submit our form now for your free case review.

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