Enfamil and Similac are facing dozens of NEC lawsuits for their pre-term newborn baby formulas. The cow’s milk-based formulas manufactured by Mead Johnson and Abbott are said to increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) (an intestinal inflammation).
According to the filers, the manufacturers have acted negligently by advertising the products to parents with pre-term newborns while failing to warn them of the potential risk of NEC, yet multiple studies have linked the milk-based formulas and fortifiers to the condition. Despite the existing studies and standards on marketing breast milk substitutes, the manufacturers have continued prioritizing profits over the babies’ health, endangering the lives of pre-term babies fed on the formulas.
The law requires manufacturers to warn consumers of potential risks of using their products, failure to which they should be held liable for any injuries suffered. Mead Johnson and Abbott’s continued marketing of the Enfamil and Similac brands is sufficient ground for suing them for negligence.
What Is NEC from Enfamil and Similac Baby Formula
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal condition affecting pre-term babies and infants with frail health (e.g., congenital heart defect) during their first weeks and months. It’s an intestinal inflammation that causes the death of the intestine tissue, leading to bacteria leaking into the abdomen and the bloodstream. The infants’ underdeveloped gastrointestinal system increases the risk of developing the condition. Thousands of infants develop NEC in the US annually, and hundreds succumb to the condition.
According to studies, infants on human milk and cow milk-based products diet are at an increased risk of NEC compared to those on an exclusively human milk-based diet. Enfamil and Similac brands that contain cow’s milk include:
- Enfamil Powder
- Enfamil 24 Cal
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
- Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 30 Cal
- Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
- Similac NeoSure
- Similac Alimentum
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Special Care 20
- Similac Special Care 30
Dangers of Infant Formulas and Pre-Term Babies
Formula milk is a common breast milk supplement where the mother’s milk production is inadequate. However, it’s not entirely safe, as an infant’s underdeveloped respiratory, immune, and gastrointestinal systems are highly vulnerable. Formula milk can trigger several side effects, including food allergies, respiratory infections, and even necrotizing enterocolitis.
Cow’s milk allergy is common among infants, which explains why infant formula causes allergic reactions in pre-term babies. Common allergy symptoms may include skin reactions, wheezing, lips/tongue/throat swelling, diarrhea, colic, constriction of airways, and difficulty breathing.
The formula can also be contaminated by a bacteria called Cronobacter during manufacturing or preparation. With the babies’ underdeveloped and vulnerable systems, infection with Cronobacter can lead to severe and even fatal infections.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the other potential danger of infant formula. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, being born prematurely and feeding on concentrated formulas are some of the top risks of NEC. The condition causes the death of the intestinal tissue resulting in the waste leaking into the abdomen and the bloodstream. While NEC is treatable (through surgery, ostomy, or peritoneal cavity draining), the mortality rate is quite high. It ranges from 10% to 50% and even approaches 100% in severe cases.
Common symptoms of NEC include abdominal distention, lethargy, yellow or green vomit, bloody diarrhea, feeding intolerance, changes in heart rate, abdominal swelling, pain, hypotension, etc. The condition can also lead to complications such as developmental delay, intestinal tract holes, multiple organ damage, sepsis, stunted growth, and death.
Filing an Enfamil or Similac NEC Lawsuit
According to The Lancet, the commercial milk formula (CMF) industry has been using underhanded marketing strategies for decades to propel its multibillion-dollar business at the expense of infants’ health. They use their economic power to manipulate industry regulation and funding of services supporting breastfeeding. The manufacturers have been accused of using misleading advertising, such as portraying poor night-time sleep and crying as inappropriate and claiming the formula alleviates the discomfort that triggers the infant behaviors.
The Lancet also pointed out the CMF industry’s deliberate defiance of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. According to the WHO code, advertising CMF to the public and promotion within healthcare settings, among other practices, are prohibited. However, efforts to lobby governments to incorporate the code into legislation have been slow, leading to the flouting of the standards.
Owing to these challenges, Enfamil and Similac, and other infant formula brands have continued manufacturing and marketing products that pose an immense risk to infants undeterred. They prey on parents’ fears, such as an infant’s uneasiness, crying, poor sleeping habits, etc., to increase profits while knowingly exposing the babies to life-altering health conditions and complications.
If your infant was diagnosed with NEC linked to the consumption of Enfamil or Similac, you have a right to file an NEC lawsuit against the brands for their negligence. An experienced attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Once you contact them and they find merit in your case, they should be able to conduct the necessary investigation and file the claim.
While any personal injury lawyer might offer to represent you, you should choose one experienced in litigating product liability cases to leverage their expertise. If they have litigated Enfamil or Similac cases before, the more relevant experience they have to navigate yours.
Do You Need an Enfamil or Similac NEC Lawyer?
If your infant developed necrotizing enterocolitis after consuming Enfamil or Similac, you have the right to file an NEC lawsuit against the brands for their negligence. NEC is a severe and potentially fatal condition that can alter your baby’s life. And with multiple studies having discouraged the introduction of formula milk, especially to pre-term and sick infants, the brands should not mislead consumers about the safety of the products. At the very least, they should provide a warning about the potential risks, which they fail to do.