Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is an often deadly intestinal disease that is far more common when premature babies are given baby formula, such as Similac or Enfamil, instead of breast milk.
Need a Texas Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If your premature baby developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) from baby formula, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
UPDATE: NEC Lawsuits Nationwide Centralized in Federal Court in Illinois
In April 2022, dozens of separate Necrotizing Enterocolitis lawsuits for premature babies who were fed Similac or Enfamil were centralized in one federal court, under one judge. The litigation process is similar to a class action, but it is actually a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 3026) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer — IN RE: Abbott Laboratories, et al., Preterm Infant Nutrition Products Liability Litigation.
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal disease that primarily occurs in premature babies and medically fragile infants. NEC causes large parts of the intestines to suddenly develop major tissue damage.
What Happens in NEC?
When intestinal tissue dies due to NEC, it can create a hole that allows bacteria to leak out into the abdomen. The bacteria can cause a serious abdominal infection (“peritonitis”) or bloodstream (“sepsis”), which can rapidly spiral out of control and quickly lead to death.
Does Baby Formula Cause NEC?
The scientific evidence is clear — baby formula is linked to a 6- to 10-fold higher risk of a premature baby developing NEC compared to breast milk. Even so, the labels on baby formulas like Enfamil and Similac (including formulas that are specifically advertised for premature babies) do not carry warnings about the risk of NEC.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuits
In recent years, a growing number of angry parents have filed lawsuits against the makers of baby formula for failing to warn about NEC.
For example, a Similac lawsuit was filed by the parents of Daniel R., a baby who was born prematurely at 31 weeks gestation. After being given Similac infant formula in the NICU, he developed necrotizing enterocolitis and died at only 16 days old.
In May 2021, his parents filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Similac, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California — Case Number 1:21-cv-00798.
What is the Risk?
NEC occurs in about 1 in 1,000 premature babies. The risk of developing NEC is highest for babies born weighing under 2 pounds. Every year in the U.S., about 9,000 babies are diagnosed with NEC and 3,600 of those babies die. Tragically, NEC is deadly in about 15% to 40% of babies who develop it.
NEC usually strikes suddenly and progresses rapidly. Once it is diagnosed, many babies only live for a few hours or days. About 1 in 4 babies require surgery to remove or repair the intestines. Survivors may have lifelong digestive problems and developmental disabilities.
Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Diarrhea with bloody stools
- Lack of weight-gain
- Slow breathing and low heart-rate
- Decreased activity
- Sleepiness and poor feeding
30 Years of Studies Link Baby Formula With Higher Risk of NEC
The evidence linking baby formula with higher rates of NEC dates back to 1990, when The Lancet published a study of 926 premature babies. In the study, 7.2% of infants who were only given formula developed NEC, compared to just 2.5% of infants given a mixture of formula and breast milk, and 1.2% of infants fed only breast milk.
“In exclusively formula-fed babies confirmed disease was 6-10 times more common than in those fed breast milk alone and 3 times more common than in those who received formula plus breast milk.”
The findings of the Lancet study have been confirmed again and again over the past 30 years. Recently, donor breast milk was also linked to lower rates of NEC compared to formula. In a study published by Pediatrics in March 2018, infants fed pasteurized donor milk had a 3.9% NEC rate, compared to an 11% NEC rate in premature infants who were exclusively fed formula.
Examples of Cow-Milk Baby Formulas
Around 80% of baby formulas sold in the U.S. are created from cow’s milk. Here are a few examples:
Need a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawyer in Texas?
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