Similac and Enfamil are cow’s milk-based baby formulas which have been linked to an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm or premature infants when compared to human breast milk. NEC kills about 25% of those it affects.
Science has known about the link between cow’s milk-based baby formulas and NEC since at least 1990. The manufacturers of Enfamil and Similac baby formula, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company, knew or should have known about the link. However, they failed to warn the public about the link, advertised their products as just as good as or even superior to human breast milk, and even specifically advertised their products as being appropriate for preterm or premature infants.
We intend to hold Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company responsible for their decision to pursue profits over public safety. You may be eligible for financial compensation in an NEC baby formula lawsuit if:
- Your baby was born premature or preterm
- Your baby was given Similac or Enfamil formula while in the hospital or neonatal intensive care unit
- Your baby was diagnosed with or passed away from NEC
The NEC baby formula lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen are representing parents of children throughout the country who were diagnosed with NEC after being given Similac or Enfamil baby formula. Our Similac lawyers do not charge a fee until and unless we obtain a recovery – no win, no fee.
Call us today or text us from this page if your baby was diagnosed with NEC after being given Similac or Enfamil. You may be entitled to financial compensation.
What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
NEC is an intestinal disease which almost exclusively affects preterm or premature infants. It is an inflammation of the intestines which causes the death of intestine tissue. Tissue death causes the intestine to be unable to hold waste, allowing bacteria to enter into the baby’s abdomen and abdominal cavity. It affects three to nine percent of prematurely born infants in the United States and usually affects infants within 3-12 days from birth.
The exact cause of the disease is not known, but cow’s milk-based baby formulas such as Similac and Enfamil have been linked with an increased risk of developing the disease.
The symptoms of NEC include:
- Refusal to eat
- Inability to gain weight
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Yellow or green vomit
- Heart rate, breathing, body temperature and blood pressure changes
- Abdominal distension
- Abdominal discoloration
- Intestinal perforation
NEC kills about 25% of babies affected. Survivors of NEC which requires surgical intervention can develop long-term complications like neurodevelopmental disability, short bowel syndrome, or narrowing of the intestines.
NEC may necessitate numerous treatment procedures, including:
- Surgery to removed damaged sections of bowels or intestines
- Ostomy, which connects the intestine or bowel to an opening in the abdomen
- Peritoneal cavity draining
NEC can lead to severe complications, including:
- Intestinal tract holes
- Narrow areas and scars in the intestines
- Trouble absorbing nutrients from food
- Developmental delays
- Inhibited growth
- Multiple organ damage
Can Baby Formula Cause Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Cow milk formula has been linked to NEC by numerous scientific studies, trials and articles:
- A 1990 clinical trial found that NEC was six to 10 times more common in exclusively formula-fed babies than in babies fed only breast milk, and three times more common than in babies who received breast plus formula milk. The trial also found that NEC was 20 times more common in babies born at over 30 weeks’ gestation who were fed formula than in babies whose diet included breast milk.
- A 2007 study found that while 10.6% of infants given less than 50% human milk developed NEC, only 3.2% of infants given more than 50% human milk developed NEC.
- A 2012 study found that lipase digestion in vitro of formula, but not human breast milk, led to high levels of unbound free fatty acids which caused the death of intestinal cells.
- A 2014 study found that 3.4% of infants given cow milk formulas developed NEC, whereas only 1% of infants given human breast milk only developed NEC.
- A 2014 author manuscript published in Expert Review of Clinical Immunology stated that “it is well established that the risk of [NEC] is increased by the administration of infant formula and decreased by the administration of breast milk.”
- A 2016 study found that while 16.7% of infants given human breast milk fortified with bovine fortifier and/or preterm formula developed NEC, only 6.9% of infants given human breast milk developed NEC.
- A 2017 article published in Advances in Nutrition stated that “several studies have indicated that bovine milk-based infant formulas lead to a higher incidence of NEC in preterm infants than does human milk.”
- A 2018 article published in Frontiers in Pediatrics notes that preterm infants given human milk instead of formula are six to 10 times less likely to develop NEC, and suggests that complex sugars in human breast milk known as oligosaccharides may reduce the risk of developing NEC.
- A 2022 study found that the probiotic bacteria known as Bifidobacterium breve is key for the prevention of “leaky gut syndrome,” which can lead to NEC.
- A 2023 study found that infant formula products didn’t contain testosterone or insulin, which are important hormones for infant development. The researchers recommended that preterm infants be given donor milk when the mother’s own milk is not available. The researchers noted that the donor milk usage reduces the risk of NEC compared to formula.
Prior NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
NEC baby formula lawsuits claim that:
- Baby formula manufacturers knew their formulas were dangerous but failed to warn about their dangers
- Baby formula makers engaged in misleading, false marketing regarding the risks of their products, marketing the products to medical teams, hospitals and parents
- Baby formula makers ignored the known danger of NEC in order to profit
Notable NEC infant formula lawsuits include:
Hunte v. Abbott Labs
Anika Hunte filed an NEC infant formula lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Connecticut against Abbott Laboratories regarding the death of her infant son, Aries Peterson.
The baby formula NEC lawsuit states Aries spent three months at Yale New Haven Hospital after being born prematurely. Caregivers at the hospital used three Abbott cow’s milk-based infant formula products, and the lawsuit claims the formula gave Aries NEC.
Abbott moved to have the lawsuit dismissed in August 2021, but U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill denied the motion to dismiss, allowing the lawsuit to continue.
Restad et al v. Abbott Laboratories Inc. et al.
Alicia Restad filed a lawsuit against Abbott and Mead Johnson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Baby Daniel stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit after being born prematurely in April 2019, weight two pounds, two ounces, according to the lawsuit. Daniel died 16 days later after developing NEC.
The lawsuit argues that the defendants did nothing to update its product warnings despite scientific research confirming the link between their products and NEC.
Baby Formula Manufacturers’ Negligent Advertising
Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company should be held responsible for every infant who has developed NEC after being given Similac or Enfamil because their advertising was reckless, misleading, and failed to warn about the link between NEC and the formulas:
- Abbottt’s website has stated that “infant formula is the only appropriate, safe alternative [to a mother’s breast milk] to meet babies’ nutritional needs.” This statement is misleading and incorrect because donor milk and human milk-based formulas exist.
- Abbott’s website once stated, “Your premature baby didn’t get her full 9 months in the womb, so her body is working hard to catch up. During her first full year, feed her Similac NeoSure, a nutrient-enriched formula for babies who were born prematurely, and help support her development.” The page stating this failed to mention the link between NEC and giving premature infants cow’s milk-based formula.
- Mead’s website also encouraged giving premature babies their formula, stating “Premature babies fed Enfamil formulas during the first year have achieved catch-up growth similar to that of full term, breastfed infants.” This page also failed to mention a link between NEC and giving premature infants cow’s milk-based formula.
- An Enfamil advertisement attempted to favorably compare Enfamil with human breast milk without mentioning an associated NEC risk, stating, “for decades human milk has inspired the advancements in Enfamil formulas.”
- Abbott and Mead developed products with misleading names: “Similac Human Milk Fortifier,” and “Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier.” One study found that only 8.8% of parents interpreted “human milk fortifier” as possibly meaning a cow’s milk-based product.
Are There Grounds For An NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit?
There are multiple grounds for Enfamil and Similac baby formula lawsuits in California:
- California law holds companies liable for injuries caused by products with defective designs. Similac and Enfamil are defectively designed because they increase the risk of NEC when used properly and because reasonable alternative designs (such as breast milk-based feeding products for preterm infants) exist.
- California law holds companies liable for injuries caused by their products when they know or should know the products can cause the injuries but fail to warn about it. Scientific studies going back to at least 1990 demonstrate a link between cow milk-based formulas and NEC, yet Abbott and Mead failed to warn the public about this link.
- California law holds companies liable for injuries caused by their negligence, or failure to be reasonably careful to prevent harm. A reasonably careful company would test a baby formula thoroughly enough to discover it can increase NEC risk, would not manufacture and sell a product which can increase NEC risk, and would warn the public about any NEC risk linked to their products.
- We are handling these cases in all 50 states.
There are many different types of Similac, including:
- Similac Alimentum
- Similac Alimentum Expert Care
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier Concentrated Liquid
- Similac Human Milk Fortifer Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier Powder
- Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
- Similac NeoSure
- Similac Pro-Advance
- Similac Pro-Sensitive
- Similac Special Care
- Similac Special Care 20
- Similac Special Care 24
- Similac Special Care 24 High Protein
- Similac Special Care 30
There are many different types of Enfamil baby formulas, including:
- Enfacare Powder
- Enfamil 24 Cal
- Enfamil 24 and DHA & ARA Supplement
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid High Protein
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
- Enfamil Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein
- Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
- Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 24 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 24 Cal/fl oz HP
- Enfamil Premature 30 Cal
How Can A Similac Or Enfamil Lawsuit Help Me?
You may be able to obtain financial compensation for several types of damages in a Similac or Enfamil lawsuit, including:
- Caregiving for your child
- Medical bills
- Mental health treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Out of pocket costs
- Lost income
- Lost revenue
- Lost profits
- Lost business opportunity
- Lost earning capacity
- Wrongful death
- Burial/funeral expenses
Can I Afford Similac Or Enfamil Lawyers?
Nadrich & Cohen are representing the families of infants who have been diagnosed with NEC on a contingency fee basis, meaning the only fee we charge is a percentage of any financial compensation we obtain for our clients. We do not charge a fee if we do not obtain a recovery. This means that anyone can afford us, as our services are essentially free.
NEC Lawsuit Updates
12 cases were added to the NEC MDL in September 2023. There are now 275 cases pending in the MDL.
A lawsuit filed on September 7, 2023, claims that a baby was “catastrophically injured” as a result of develping necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed Similac products at an intensive care unit in Fresno, CA. The baby allegedly required a bowel reconstruction surgery as a result of the disease, and allegedly continues to suffer from long-term health problems.
On July 27, 2023, a lawsuit was filed in Illinois alleging that a baby died from NEC after being fed Similac formula. The lawsuit alleges the baby required multiple surgeries and died after experiencing “excruciating” pain.
There are now 275 Enfamil lawsuits and Similac lawsuits which have been filed in federal court against Mead Johnson and Abbott by the families of infants who received NEC diagnoses after drinking the formula. These lawsuits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer is overseeing the MDL in Illinois’ Northern District.
The NEC lawsuits make similar claims, claiming that Abbott and Mead Johnson specifically marketed formula and fortifier based on cow’s milk for preterm newborns to use without warning families, doctors or hospitals that these products raise the risk of developing NEC in preterm newborns. Attorneys are currently investigating and filing additional claims, and the ultimate expectation is that the MDL will consist of several thousand NEC lawsuits.
On November 10, 2022, a proposed schedule for bellwether trial cases in the federal NEC baby formula multidistrict litigation was submitted to the court. The schedule calls for case-specific fact discovery to finish by April 2023, and for a pretrial conference to take place in March 2024, during which the start of the initial jury trials will be discussed.
As part of the multidistrict litigation’s pretrial schedule, NEC settlement talks have been scheduled for the time period from October 15 to October 27, 2023. These talks may move things forward towards negotiations regarding an agreement which would settle claims against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson.
The results of the initial bellwether trials won’t have a binding impact on subsequent claims. However, they will likely substantially impact NEC settlements which Abbott and Mead Johnson might offer in order to avoid individual cases being remanded to district courts for separate, future trials.
The first trial is scheduled for March 11, 2024. Discovery is in progress in preparation for this trial.
Abbott also faces a class-action suit, filed in November 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. This lawsuit accuses Abbott of falsely, deceptively and misleadingly marketing that Similac Pro-Advance formula is comparable to breast milk. The lawsuit notes that the product’s labeling claims that the formula is “our closest formula to breast milk.” However, no scientific study has suggested that baby formula and human milk are similar, and the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes disallows claims idealizing infant formula.
Similac And Enfamil Lawyers
Nadrich & Cohen has been successfully representing victims of dangerous products like Similac, Enfamil and Neocate for over 30 years. We have recovered over half a billion dollars for our clients since 1990.
Big corporations, their insurance companies and their lawyers know that our vast experience means our Enfamil lawyers know the ins and outs of product liability law, and they know that our consistent track record of success in product liability cases means that they have no chance of beating us in court. That’s why almost all of our cases end up being settled out of court for the full, fair value of our clients’ injuries and losses.
Call us today if your premature or preterm infant was given Similac or Enfamil in the hospital or neonatal ICU and was diagnosed with NEC. You may be eligible for a financial recovery.