Lawsuit: Newborn’s NEC Death Resulted from Deceptive Infant Formula Marketing

A Georgia woman alleges in a new Similac NEC lawsuit that decades of deceptive marketing by Abbott Laboratories contributed to the death of her newborn child from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). According to the wrongful death lawsuit, Abbott’s claims that Similac could be used in place of breastmilk caused the hospital to feed the cow’s milk-based formula to her premature infant, despite evidence that premature babies who are fed cow’s milk-based infant formula products have a significantly higher risk of developing potentially fatal NEC. To find out whether you may have grounds to file a legal claim against Abbott or another infant formula manufacturer for your child’s NEC-related injuries or death, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. With an experienced product liability lawyer on your side, you may be able to recover the compensation you and your loved ones deserve for your considerable losses.

Link Between Infant Formula and Intestinal Disease

Ongoing baby formula shortages and recent problems with Salmonella and Cronobacter contamination have shined a light on the safety of cow’s milk-based infant formula products and their connection to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a potentially deadly gastrointestinal disease that primarily affects premature babies who are fed cow’s milk-based formula instead of the mother’s breastmilk or human donor milk. In babies with NEC, bacteria invade the intestinal wall and destroy the bowel, allowing the bacteria to leak into the abdomen or the bloodstream and cause a serious infection or death. Preterm babies with NEC often need emergency surgery while still in the NICU, and only eight out of 10 babies with NEC survive, many with long-term health problems caused by the disease.

A Wave of Infant Formula NEC Lawsuits

There has been a recent surge in lawsuits filed by the families of premature babies who developed NEC or died after being fed cow’s milk-based infant formulas like Similac and Enfamil in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or at home. This latest Similac NEC lawsuit was filed late last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Jessica Jacobs, on behalf of herself and her late son, Conner Ethan Buchner. Jacobs’ son was born preterm at 36 weeks on November 5, 2008, with a low birth weight of 5.5 pounds. He was transferred to the NICU due to respiratory distress and was fed Similac NeoSure infant formula by the NICU staff. Jacobs states in her lawsuit that her baby developed NEC and died at just eight days old as a direct result of being fed Similac.

“The clinical and autopsy findings support that Baby B’s cause of death was NEC, which led to septic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation, which resulted in his sudden passing,” the wrongful death lawsuit states. “At the time of his death, Baby B’s mother was unaware of the fact that he had been fed harmful Cow’s Milk Products that caused or substantially contributed to the development of NEC and ultimately to his death.”

Abbott Accused of Misleading Similac Marketing

Jacobs alleges that Abbott engaged in deceptive marketing techniques that deliberately overstated the benefits of its cow’s milk-based infant formulas and fortifiers and minimized the substantial risks associated with feeding these products to premature babies. Jacobs claims that Abbot knew for years about the substantially increased risk of NEC among premature babies who are fed cow’s milk-based infant formula products like Similac and Enfamil compared to babies who are fed breastmilk alone. However, rather than educating parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals about the link between Similac and NEC, Jacobs states that Abbott used misleading marketing to make its formula and fortifier products appear safer than they really are.

“One study estimates that formula manufacturers, like Abbott, spent $4.48 billion on marketing and promotion in 2014 alone,” Jacobs states in the complaint. “Often these tactics implicitly discouraged mothers from breastfeeding, which reduces the mother’s supply of breast milk. None of Abbott’s marketing materials, including its promotional websites, reference the science showing how significantly its products increase the risk of NEC.”

Contact Consumer Safety Watch Today

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages everyday promoting food, automobiles, medications, mobile devices, baby and children’s health products, and everything in between. It falls on manufacturing companies like Abbott to ensure that their products are safe and effective and to provide consumers with accurate information about the potential health risks they and their loved ones could face when using their products, especially when it involves the safety and well-being of premature babies. Unfortunately, when parents, caregivers, and hospitals are left in the dark about the potential side effects of infant formulas, the consequences can be devastating for affected babies and families. If your baby developed NEC or died after being fed Similac, Enfamil, or another cow’s milk-based infant formula in the NICU or at home, do not hesitate to speak to an infant formula NEC attorney about your legal options.

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