Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) baby formula lawsuits have been in process for over a year. Many people claim that cow milk-based formulas are responsible for causing NEC in premature infants. But does it? And what should you do if your baby suffered from NEC? 

This is a complicated set of lawsuits based on challenging medical terminology. The science behind the NEC lawsuits can also be confusing if you aren't familiar. This article explains everything you need to know about NEC, including what NEC is, how formulas cause NEC, what babies are most at-risk, what formula companies and brands are involved, why the companies are being held liable, and what you should do if your family was affected.

What's Going on with the NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit?

Over the past year, families have been seeking legal advice after their babies developed NEC. In some cases, the disease has been fatal. In others, the infants may develop lifelong health issues.

To fully understand the NEC baby formula lawsuit, you must understand what NEC is, how the baby formulas caused the infections, which brands are involved, why the companies responsible should be held liable, and what to do if your family was affected. 

What is NEC?

Necrotizing enterocolitis is the most common gastrointestinal diseases among preterm infants. It is almost exclusively found in premature or sick infants around weeks two to six of life. However, NEC can also be found in:

  • Infants who are fed formula instead of breast milk.
  • Infants in a nursery experiencing an NEC outbreak.
  • Infants who have received blood transfusions. 

The exact cause of NEC is not understood, but NEC occurs when the intestinal lining dies. Essentially, a drop in blood flow to the intestinal region can cause tissue damage. NEC causes inflammation of the intestinal tissue, causing the tissue to perish. This can form a hole in the infant's intestines, into which bacteria may enter the child's belly or bloodstream.

It can be very serious, with a high mortality rate; roughly 20% of NEC infant cases are fatal. Although in some infants NEC only causes mild symptoms, about 25% of infants with NEC will require surgery.

Medical bills for surgical NEC cases have been estimated at $300,000 to $660,000. Even nonsurgical NEC medical bills can be expensive.

Cow’s Milk-Based Formulas Caused Preterm Babies' Bacterial Infections

In some preterm NEC cases, milk-based formulas are the cause. Premature infants are more likely to develop NEC if they are fed formula than breastmilk.

It's unclear exactly how many families have been negatively impacted by NEC caused by milk-based formulas, but even one family is too many. 

It's suspected that more families have been affected than have come forward. Yet, over the past year families have filed NEC baby formula lawsuits against Mead and Abbot in federal courts, like this NY mom whose son underwent surgery for NEC. 

Some of the most popular baby formula brands in the U.S. are involved in the NEC baby formula lawsuit. If your baby developed NEC after being fed formula, you should contact an experienced product liability lawyer who understands the intricacies of this case.

Which Popular Baby Formula Brands and Products Are Involved?

Two of the most popular cow milk-based baby formula brands and products involved in the NEC baby formula lawsuit are Enfamil by Mead Johnson & Company and Similac by Abbot Laboratories, Inc. Americans have lodged multiple lawsuits against these companies for their role in infant NEC.

Enfamil, Owned by Mead Johnson & Company

Mead Johnson & Company's Enfamil is one of the formulas at the heart of the NEC baby formula lawsuits. The lawsuits claim that Enfamil has caused NEC in many premature infants. 

Similac, Owned by Abbot Laboratories Inc.

Abbot Laboratories Inc.'s Similac is another formula product at the heart of these NEC lawsuits. Like the Enfamil suits, the Similac suits also claim that Abbot Laboraties Inc.'s formula was the cause of NEC in premature infants.

Learn which Enfamil and Similac formulas contain cow's milk.

Were the Companies Aware of the NEC Risks Associated With Their Formulas?

In these cases, the question is whether the companies were aware of the NEC risks posed by their formulas? And if they weren't aware, should they have been?

If the companies knew that their formulas could cause NEC but failed to warn, this action goes beyond ethics. These companies should be held liable for the immeasurable pain and damages inflicted upon American families.

The ignorance excuse may hold water only if the link between cow's milk-based formula and NEC was only recently suggested, but it wasn't.

An impressive amount of research on cow's milk baby formulas has been linked to an increased risk of NEC since the 1990s. For 30 years, the formula companies failed to heed medical science and opted not to warn the public about the risks of NEC.

For example, a 2017 article titled Current Knowledge of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Preterm Infants and the Impact of Different Types of Enteral Nutrition Products points out the link between cow milk-based formulas and NEC occurrence. The article cites ten sources specifically supporting its claims, including the landmark study from 1990 and articles from the early 2000s.

To add to the generally-accepted knowledge in medical science publications: 

  • In 2011, the U.S. Surgeon General made a statement that formula feeding is associated with greater rates of NEC in preterm babies.
  • In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics statement confirmed that preterm infants should only receive human milk due to formula's increased risks for NEC.

Additionally, a 2021 report in the British Medical Journal found those formula manufacturers funded biased trials lacking independence and transparency with findings based on selective reporting. Formula manufacturers manipulated their trials to reach false outcomes.

If Your Formula-Fed Baby Suffered NEC, Get Legal Representation

If your infant was fed formula and suffered from NEC, you should contact a law firm that understands product liability and NEC in babies. You may be eligible to receive damages to compensate for your infant's medical bills and other losses. The statute of limitations is different in every state. To ensure your NEC lawsuit is lodged successfully, it's best to contact us as soon as possible. We're happy to answer any questions about the NEC baby formula lawsuit and your rights.

Contact Ratzan Weissman & Boldt to learn more about your options today.