A New Jersey mother claims in a new infant formula NEC lawsuit filed late last month, that her minor child, born prematurely at Pennsylvania Hospital, developed necrotizing enterocolitis, a potentially deadly intestinal condition, after being fed Similac and Enfamil in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). The lawsuit alleges that manufacturers Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories, along with Pennsylvania Hospital and the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, are responsible for the lasting intestinal injuries sustained by the premature infant, identified in the claim as J.C. If your child developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed Similac or Enfamil baby formula as a premature infant, you may have grounds to file a baby formula NEC lawsuit against the formula manufacturer, the hospital, and other responsible parties. Contact us today to find out whether you may qualify for compensation.
It is a common practice for premature babies to be fed cow’s milk-based infant formulas like Enfamil and Similac while in the NICU, to help with growth and weight gain. However, a growing body of research published in recent years has linked these seemingly safe formula products to an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious and potentially life-threatening intestinal disease that primarily affects premature infants. In babies with NEC, bacteria invade the intestinal wall and inflame the intestinal tissue, causing it to die. This can create a hole in the intestine, which may allow bacteria to leak into the abdomen or bloodstream. This can cause a serious abdominal infection requiring emergency surgery to remove the damaged tissue, often while the baby is still in the NICU. An estimated eight out of ten babies with NEC survive, and those that do may experience long-term health problems as a result of the condition.
Emerging information about the increased risk of NEC in babies fed Similac or Enfamil compared to those fed breastmilk alone has led to a growing number of lawsuits brought by families across the country against formula manufacturers Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson. Each baby formula NEC lawsuit involves similar allegations that the manufacturers knew about the potential for their products to elevate the risk of NEC in premature infants and withheld information about this risk from parents and caregivers for decades. Many of these claims also allege that the manufacturers of cow’s milk-based formulas have promoted and continue to promote their products as superior to breastmilk in direct-to-consumer messages on their company websites.
In this latest infant formula NEC lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on March 24, plaintiff Holli Carter indicates that her minor child was born prematurely at Pennsylvania Hospital in October 2014, and was fed Enfamil and Similac, cow’s milk-based infant formulas that have been linked to NEC in premature babies. According to Carter, her child developed the gastrointestinal problem as a result of ingesting the formula products, and now suffers from permanent and life-altering injuries caused by the intestinal disease. “A diet based exclusively on breast milk and breast milk fortifiers provides all the nutrition necessary to support premature and low-birth-weight infants without the elevated risk of NEC associated with cow’s milk-based products,” Carter’s NEC lawsuit states. “The Defendant Manufacturers’ products not only pose a threat to infants’ health, but also displace the breast milk they could otherwise receive. This displacement only increases infants’ vulnerability to NEC, as studies show that breast milk protects against the disease.”
In addition to raising claims against the manufacturers of Similac and Enfamil formula products, Carter’s lawsuit also includes malpractice claims against Pennsylvania Hospital, alleging that the hospital knew or should have known about the risks associated with feeding premature infants cow’s milk-based formula products as an alternative to breastmilk or human donor milk. Despite this presumed knowledge, the hospital has continued to purchase, supply, and distribute these products to preterm infants, without providing parents, healthcare providers, and other staff at the hospital with adequate warnings about the potential health risks, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit cites as evidence a 2012 internal newsletter from Penn Medicine, in which a staff lactation consultant is quoted as saying, “Preemies given mother’s milk get discharged three to four days sooner and also have a six to 10 times lower risk of getting a gastrointestinal complication called necrotizing enterocolitis.”
The potential for cow’s milk-based infant formula products like Enfamil and Similac to increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis among premature infants has been well documented in recent years. Still, these products continue to be fed to at-risk preterm babies in NICUs across the country. If your child was fed a version of Similac or Enfamil baby formula after being born premature, and subsequently developed NEC or another devastating digestive health issue, do not hesitate to speak to an infant formula NEC attorney about your legal options. We can put you in touch with an experienced attorney who can help you determine what your claim may be worth.