Makers of Enfamil, Similac Baby Formulas Face Lawsuits Over NEC in Premature Infants

The parents of premature infants who developed a serious intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed cow’s milk-based Enfamil and Similac baby formulas are suing the manufacturers, alleging that they knew about the serious risks associated with their products and failed to ensure that new parents were made aware of those risks. Preterm infants should not consume cow’s milk, and baby formulas made with cow’s milk may increase their risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis, which can be fatal. If your child was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis or died after being fed a cow’s milk-based baby formula like Enfamil or Similac, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against Mead Johnson & Company, the makers of Enfamil, and/or Abbott Laboratories, the makers of Similac. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out how we can help.

Link Between Baby Formulas and Potentially Fatal NEC

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious gastrointestinal disease occurring when the wall of the small or large intestine becomes injured or inflamed. This can lead to death of the intestinal tissue, and in some cases, perforation of the intestinal wall, which means the intestine can no longer hold waste. As a result, bacteria may pass into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection requiring emergency surgery. The devastating condition mostly affects babies who are sick or born premature and has recently been linked to popular baby formulas made with cow’s milk, like Enfamil and Similac. NEC typically occurs within the first two weeks of life and is fatal in 50% of cases.

Breastfed infants tend to have fewer infections than formula-fed infants, since antibodies and other germ-fighting ingredients pass from the mother to the baby during breastfeeding and work to strengthen the baby’s immune system. Formula manufacturers have yet to create a product that matches the benefits of breastmilk for babies, especially those born premature, and research has shown that preterm or low-birth-weight babies fed formula products made with cow’s milk are significantly more likely to develop NEC than infants fed human breastmilk or donor milk.

In one study published in the journal Paediatrics & Child Health in October 2021, researchers from Ontario concluded that premature infants should be fed human breastmilk from donors rather than formula made from cow’s milk, if the mother’s breastmilk is not available, indicating that it reduces the risk of NEC and promotes better growth rates for preterm babies. According to their findings, premature infants who received cow’s milk-based formula were more likely to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for suspected NEC than those fed donor milk.

Lawsuits Allege Formula Manufacturers Knew About NEC Risk

Lawsuits against Abbot Laboratories and Mead Johnson allege that the manufacturers failed to disclose known risks about the potential for their cow’s milk-based products to cause NEC in premature infants. One of the latest lawsuits claiming that cow’s milk-based Enfamil and Similac baby formulas cause NEC was filed in the Eastern District of Missouri by the mother of a premature infant, Phoenix Jeffries, who died from the gastrointestinal disease after being fed Enfamil and Similac at the hospital. According to allegations raised in the wrongful death lawsuit, Abbott and Mead Johnson have known for years that their preterm infant formula products made with cow’s milk increased the risk of NEC in premature babies, but continued promoting the products to hospitals without adequate NEC warnings.

“On September 21, 2021, Phoenix Jeffries endured an exploratory laparotomy, which revealed Necrotizing Enterocolitis totalis, a condition where the entirety of the intestinal tract is necrotic and is inoperable,” the wrongful death lawsuit states. “At this point, Phoenix Jeffries was started on comfort care and Plaintiff Samantha Clarke and her family visited the NICU for the last hours of Phoenix Jeffries’s life. Phoenix Jeffries passed away from NEC shortly after.”

Contact Consumer Safety Watch Today for Help

The manufacturers of cow’s milk-based infant formulas have aggressively marketed their products to replace or supplement breastmilk for premature babies admitted to the NICU, without providing adequate warnings for parents about the risk of these products causing NEC. Necrotizing enterocolitis typically occurs very suddenly and can progress rapidly in preterm infants, possibly resulting in the need for emergency surgery or even leading to death. If your baby was born premature and developed NEC after being fed a cow’s milk-based formula like Enfamil or Similac, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the formula manufacturer, in order to pursue financial compensation for your losses.

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