Several news about certain cow’s milk-based formula products causing a dangerous disease called necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC have been spreading like wildfire lately. Unfortunately, these news are not baseless and are actually backed up by research.
Recent studies have indicated a potential link between baby formula products such as Enfamil and Similac and NEC in premature infants. In fact, Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson and Similac manufacturer Abbott Laboratories are now facing numerous NEC lawsuit filed by parents and guardians after their preterm infants developed NEC after they were fed with the formula products.
Read on to learn more about how these toxic baby formula products can potentially put premature babies in danger.
What is the link between NEC and baby formula?
A growing body of research suggests that premature babies that are given cows milk based formula are up to 10 times more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis than babies who are exclusively fed with breastmilk. In addition, infants who are fed with cow milk formula as a supplement to human milk are three times more likely to develop NEC.
NEC or necrotizing enterocolitis is a dangerouns intestinal disease that usually affects very sick or premature babies. It causes infection and inflammation in the intestines which could ultimately damage or destroy the child’s intestinal tissue. While any premature baby is at risk for NEC, those who do not get human milk are more likely to develop the disease. This is because breast milk is easier to digest and contains antibodies that can fight infection. Studies also show that breast milk promotes cell growth in the infant gut.
Another reason for cow milk based formula-fed preterm infants’ elevated risk of developing NEC is the fact that they are less mature than full-term babies. This means that they may have problems with blood and oxygen circulation and therefore have reduced blood flow to their intestinal tract. The underdeveloped organs of premature infants also means their body is not always for important bodily functions such as digestion and fighting infections.
Several studies have demonstrated that bovine milk-based formula increases the risk of NEC. For instance, the results of a 2016 study showed that although formula feeding contributed in weight gain, it also substantially increased the risk of NEC by 12.6. Another conclusion made by the researchers is that an exclusive breast milk diet reduces the risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Why might infant formula increase the risk of NEC?
Research shows that breast milk better protects the sensitive bowels of preterm infants. Feeding premature or low birth weight (LBW) babies cows milk based formula or supplements can inflame the bowel, and in certain cases cause a rupture and leak harmful bacteria into the newborn’s abdominal cavity.
Premature babies also often have nutritional deficiencies, and hospitals have attempted for so many years to improve these deficiencies by substituting formula for human milk or fortifying human milk with cow’s milk-based fortifiers. Unfortunately, giving preemies formula or human milk fortifiers has, in many cases, resulted in adverse consequences.
A 2019 study found that around 20 to 40% of NEC cases lead to surgery. Tragically, 20 to 67% of all NEC cases are fatal. When a baby manages to survive the disease, its long-term side effects can also affect the child later in life. NEC can cause numerous gastrointestinal and neurodevelopmental problems to those who survived it.
In another study in 2015, researchers found that the incidence rate of NEC among infants who were fed exclusive human milk-based diet was 6.9%, as compared to 16.7% among the group that were fed bovine formula or fortifiers. The mortality rate among babies on bovine diet was also higher at 17.2%, compared to 13.6% among infants on the human milk diet.
Overall, the study demonstrates the multiple benefits of feeding newborns an exclusive breast milk diet.
Can full-term babies get NEC?
Although necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is predominately a disease of preterm infants, in rare cases, the condition can also affect full-term babies who usually have a birth defect. However, there have also been documented cases of the disease affecting term infants who have been otherwise well. But again, these cases are very rare.
Still, NEC is much more common in preemies, especially very low birth weight babies or those who weigh less than 1,500 g. These infants are also at prolonged risk as they can develop NEC as late as 10 weeks of age.
What baby formula is linked to NEC?
Enfamil and Similac are two baby formula products that are being linked to NEC in premature infants. There have been many recent reports of preemies contracting NEC and suffering from injuries or even death after being fed the cow milk based formula products while in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
And although the link between formula and NEC is something that has been highlighted in several studies over the past three decades, more and more people are just now taking notice of this association. This growing attention is mainly due to parents and guardians standing their ground and wanting to hold formula manufacturers accountable for the harm and damage they have inflicted to their babies and their families in extension.
Why are people filing a NEC infant formula lawsuit?
Parents and guardians are now filing a NEC baby formula lawsuit against Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson and Similac baby formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories for allegedly causing NEC that resulted in severe injuries or death in their premature children.
Plaintiffs also accuse the manufacturers of failing to adequately warn consumers about the risk of NEC that comes with their products. These baby formulas do not include any warnings about NEC as a side effect on their product labeling. Additionally, the companies are guilty of deceptive marketing, according to victims.
They noted that these huge companies make use of free samples, coupons, and misleading information that lead mothers to believe their infant formula products are safe. These manufacturers also go to great lengths by aggressively advertising their products in hopes of dissuading people from believing criticisms about their formulas being less safer than breast milk. However, these criticisms are supported by scientific evidence and have been present in medical literature for several years.
Do you believe your child has NEC caused by infant formula?
If your child has suffered from NEC after being fed with potentially toxic baby formula products such as Enfamil or Similac, it is imperative that you know more about your rights. Manufacturers are required to make safe products. If they cannot do so, they still have a legal obligation to adequately warn the public about the health risks of their products.
Unfortunately, many baby formula manufacturers make a deliberate choice not to include a warning on their label that their formula increases the risk of NEC in premature infants. Needless to say, no parent, guardian, especially an innocent newborn deserves this tragedy to happen to them. Unfortunately, many companies put profits over the safety of consumers and the most vulnerable among us end up suffering the consequences.
Luckily for you, the law has provided us several tools to fight against these abusive companies. These manufacturers should not be allowed to produce more dangerous formulas that would cause harm to infants. You can help make this happen by pursuing a NEC baby formula lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories (manufacturer of Similac) and Mead Johnson (manufacturer of Enfamil).
Aside from getting the justice you deserve, our experienced and reliable NEC lawyers can also help you secure a full and fair financial compensation. Do not hesitate to contact us today and explore your legal options with us.