Across the country, families are taking legal action against the manufacturers of Enfamil and Similac infant formula. These baby formula lawsuits claim that the companies failed to warn of the known risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) associated with their products. These cow’s milk-derived formulas, specifically marketed to infants, have resulted in numerous cases of severe illness and death in premature newborns.
Since 2011, necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawsuits have been settled in New York, California, Louisiana, Florida, and other states, with some settlements reaching as high as $10 million. In December 2021, a group of NEC baby formula attorneys filed a motion to consolidate pending infant formula lawsuits into a single action. Over 30 lawsuits were filed in 2021 against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, the corporations responsible for the manufacture and distribution of Enfamil and Similac products.
The NEC infant formula lawyers at The Solomon Law Group continue to stay up-to-date on emerging research and case developments in this important legal fight. We are currently representing families whose lives have been devastated by the loss or illness of a newborn child. Please contact our firm for the latest information about filing a necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawsuit in South Carolina.
What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal disease affecting newborn infants. Premature babies are more likely to be diagnosed with NEC than those born full term. Roughly nine out of ten babies diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis are born prematurely. Only about 1 in 10,000 full-term babies suffer from NEC. Most infants who develop NEC do so within the first two to six weeks after birth.
When an infant suffers from NEC, the bowels are not able to hold, carry, and move waste out of the body. NEC is a life-threatening condition which causes inflammation and tissue death in the intestines and may lead to severe infection. When a hole develops in the lining of the intestine, bacteria can enter the abdomen and bloodstream and cause serious illness or death. Symptoms of NEC infants may exhibit include:
- Difficulty feeding or feeding intolerance
- Irregular bowel movements (including constipation or diarrhea)
- Blood in stool
- Vomiting, especially with green or yellow bile present
- Swollen abdomen
- Lethargy and physical weakness
- Inability to gain weight
- Apnea (pauses in breathing)
- Abnormally low or unstable body temperatures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
Symptoms may develop gradually or appear suddenly. Among infants who are diagnosed with NEC, more premature and underdeveloped babies have a higher fatality rate. According to the NIH Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center (GARD), infants who weigh less than 1,500 grams (approximately 3.3 pounds) have a mortality rate ranging from 10% to more than 50%, depending on the severity of NEC and the infant’s health condition. Babies weighing at least 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) have a lower mortality rate, ranging 0-20%. Extremely premature infants weighing 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds) or less are the most vulnerable to the effects of NEC. These infants suffer mortality rates of 40-100% after an NEC diagnosis.
Babies who survive NEC in infanthood are likely to experience the effects of this severe intestinal disease throughout their lifetimes. The long-term health complications associated with NEC include:
- Poor growth
- Infection or sepsis
- Short bowel syndrome (when the body is unable to absorb nutrients from food)
- Liver and bile dysfunction
- Cognitive impairment
- Metabolic bone disease (MBD) caused by mineral abnormalities in the body
There is no one, single cause of every case of NEC. In many cases, cause is not determined at all. A newborn infant’s weaker immune and digestive systems make them more susceptible to intestinal infections. This risk is especially high in premature babies. An underdeveloped intestine that doesn’t fully mature before birth, a viral or bacterial intestinal infection, a traumatic injury, and the use of infant formula instead of breastmilk are factors that have been shown to contribute to the development of necrotizing enterocolitis in infants.
Because of the established links between cow’s milk-based infant formula use and NEC, baby formula manufacturers that neglected to warn parents of known risks have in recent years faced NEC baby formula lawsuits in large numbers.
Can Baby Formula Cause NEC?
While baby formula is not a direct cause of necrotizing enterocolitis, a formula-based diet substantially increases the chances that a premature baby will develop NEC. A study published in October 2021 found new evidence to support current data indicating that infants who receive cow’s milk-based formula are at increased risk for NEC. The same year, another study determined that one case of NEC could be prevented for every 10 infants who received an exclusively human breastmilk diet. These are not the first studies of their kind linking infant formula to necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies.
As early as 1990, data showed that NEC was 6-10 times more common in formula-fed infants than in babies only fed breast milk. Over the past three decades, a substantial body of scientific research has consistently confirmed our understanding of the relationship between the feeding of infant formula to premature newborns and the development of necrotizing enterocolitis. In 2011, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding listed NEC as one of the health risks associated with formula feeding vulnerable infants, warning that premature infants not given human milk are 138% more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis.
It is this well-established, research-backed knowledge of the known risks of baby formula use in preterm newborns that has led many parents to choose to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit. An NEC infant formula lawsuit directs legal action against companies that allegedly failed in their duty to warn of known risks. Those who file baby formula lawsuits claim that manufacturing companies did not communicate the dangers associated with their product, an action that could have prevented their child from suffering from NEC.
How Does a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Baby Formula Lawsuit Help Parents?
Parents of infants diagnosed with NEC suffer extreme emotional anguish. Newborns who do not lose their lives to this disease are forced to live with the physical and cognitive impairments associated with NEC. In addition to the intense emotional and physical suffering families must endure, there are steep financial consequences.
Many families have chosen to file necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawsuits against the manufacturing companies that concealed information in order to increase profits. Filing an NEC infant formula lawsuit can help alleviate the immense financial burden stemming from prolonged and intensive medical care after illness. In the event that a newborn dies from NEC complications, a baby formula lawsuit can compensate families for funeral and burial costs.
Companies responsible for the manufacturing of infant formulas derived from cow’s milk have an obligation to warn consumers of the known risks to premature babies. When corporations make a conscious decision to withhold information in order to increase product sales, the law can step in to prevent harmful injustice from continuing. An NEC lawsuit is a legal tool to hold companies accountable for gross negligence, warn other families about the risk of these products, and protect vulnerable infants from a situation that could cause harm or death.
Which Infant Formula Companies Are Facing NEC Lawsuits?
The two predominant infant formula brands currently facing NEC lawsuits are Enfamil and Similac. Neither Enfamil (manufactured by Mead Johnson Nutrition) nor Similac (manufactured by Abbott Laboratories) print NEC warning labels on their cow’s milk-based infant formula products. Despite the wealth of scientific data indicating increased NEC risk to premature infants fed formulas such as these, the companies have neglected to publish warnings of the potential danger.
If your child was fed any of the following Mead Johnson Nutrition or Abbott Laboratories products and subsequently developed NEC, you may be entitled to file an infant formula lawsuit against the company.
Mead Johnson Nutrition
- 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 NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 20 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil 24 Cal Infant Formula
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Special Care 20, 24, 24 High Protein, or 30
- Similac NeoSure
- Similac Expert Care Alimentum Hypoallergenic Formula
- Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid
Knowingly producing, packaging, and marketing a dangerous product to unsuspecting consumers has resulted in countless deaths and injuries to newborns across the country. Parents, caregivers, and even medical providers rely on the label information published by the manufacturer. This vital information alerts users to any harm the product has the potential to cause.
Without this information, a parent’s capacity to choose safe products for their child is stripped away. It is for this reason that there exists a library of federal regulations governing what must be included on product warning labels. This is particularly important when in comes to nutrition products and products marketed to infants. Mead Johnson and Abbott Labs, as companies that sell nutrition products specifically targeting highly vulnerable newborn infants, should be held to even higher standards of safety and accountability.
Who Can File a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Baby Formula Lawsuit?
There is still much work to be done to discover the extent of negligence and coverup on the part of companies like Mead Johnson and Abbott Labs. If your formula-fed infant suffered illness or death following an NEC diagnosis, you may be entitled to take legal action against the manufacturing company responsible. Families may qualify to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit under the following conditions:
- Your child was born prematurely.
- Your child received Enfamil or Similac infant formula prior to illness.
- Your child was diagnosed with NEC and suffered injury or death.
The necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula lawyers at The Solomon Law Group are currently in the process of gathering information and advocating for families whose lives have been altered by an NEC diagnosis. To learn more about how an NEC baby formula lawsuit can help your family achieve a path to recovery, contact The Solomon Law Group. We will review your case details and provide expert and compassionate legal guidance.