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Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) & The Effects In Premature Babies Being Fed With Similac Or Enfamil Products

Posted on 08/09/21 by admin in Mass Tort,Product Liability

A new baby is always a blessing. However, when a baby is born prematurely, his or her situation might generate stress and fear for any family. Premature babies may have trouble latching & nursing or need extra nutrition to address any one of many medical conditions. That is why it’s common to feed premature infants with cow’s milk-based formula. Infant formula manufacturing giants Enfamil and Similac create high-calorie cow’s milk-based products designed especially for premature babies. However, infant formula lawsuits allege that products manufactured by Enfamil and Similac put preemies at an increased risk for a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Necrotizing Enterocolitis


Premature and low birth weight newborns often have trouble nursing or need extra nutrition to address a myriad of medical conditions. Parents may turn to formula to supplement their premature baby’s nutrition. When they do, they have the right to expect the formula is safe. Tragically, milk-based infant formulas by Similac and Enfamil, which were designed specifically for premature infants, have been linked to a deadly condition.

These high-calorie, cow’s milk-based products are allegedly putting infants at an increased risk of developing a gastrointestinal disorder called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which inflames and kills intestinal tissue. Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Similac, and Mead Johnson & Company, the maker of Enfamil, have included no warnings on the products’ labels regarding the potential risks of a premature baby developing NEC.

What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

Necrotizing Enterocolitis is a serious gastrointestinal problem that mostly affects premature babies. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it causes intestinal tissue to die. This health condition is not something that should be taken lightly. It is a serious condition that might generate long term effects in babies, and sometimes even death.  Many of the negative effects of NEC require surgery to attempt to repair the baby’s abdomen and intestine. If the condition is not fatal, infants are still at risk. They may also suffer from growth failure and neurodevelopmental issues. Moreover, NEC may lead to additional serious health problems.

Consequences Of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

  • Abdominal infection called peritonitis
  • Sepsis
  • Intestinal stricture, or narrowing of the intestines
  • Short bowel syndrome, which makes it hard for the body to absorb fluids and nutrients

 Symptoms of NEC include

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Diarrhea with bloody stool
  • Green or yellow vomit
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Changes in body temperature and breathing
  • Refusing to eat
  • Lack of weight gain
  • Lethargy


What Causes Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

The cause of NEC is not exactly clear. In addition, studies have proven that some infant intestinal problems are not preventable. However, there is one cause of NEC that is 100% preventable and evitable. This is the use of bovine — or cow’s milk — fortifiers that are added to formula and/or breast milk in order to help premature infants gain weight.  A study performed by Ryoko Minekawa, Takashi Takeda, Masahiro Sakata, Masami Hayashi, Aki Isobe, Toshiya Yamamoto, Keiichi Tasaka, and Yuji Murata Show tackles Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) issues, “which is a disease with a poor prognosis, is considered to be caused by the coincidence of intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injury and systemic inflammation due to the colonization of pathogenic bacteria.”.

Moreover, As far back as 1990 ‘a total of 926 preterm infants were studied, 51 of whom developed NEC. Exclusively formula-fed infants were 6 to 10 times more likely to develop NEC than those who received breastmilk. Although NEC is rare in babies over 30 weeks gestation, it was 20 times more common if the baby had received no breastmilk. (Lucas A & Cole TJ (1990). Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis. Lancet 336: 1519-1522). The study found that NEC was “6 to 10 times more common in formula fed babies than in those fed breast milk alone, and NEC was 3 times more common in babies fed formula plus breast milk.”.

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that ‘all premature infants should be fed an exclusive human milk diet because of the risk of NEC associated with the consumption of cow’s milk products’. The sad part is that hospitals and neonatologists are aware of these studies, but often still choose to use cow’s mil-based formulas. These products, such as the ones that Similac & Enfamil offer have lower cost than it’s “easier” to produce than human’s milk-based fortifiers. On top of that, the manufacture companies that develop these types of nutritional products, do not include any type of warning to anyone in any of the products that are linked to NEC in premature infants.

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Necrotizing Enterocolitis And Its Connection To Similac & Enfamil

Similac and Enfamil are two well known infant-formula-product companies. They are supposed to help with babies’ “brain building nutrition and immune support”. Nonetheless, there are a variety of lawsuits against these giants‘ manufacturers, alleging strict liability for design defect and failure to warn about potential secondary effects. The main side effect that almost every lawsuit of this type is talking about is Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Several parents whose premature babies suffered severe injuries or passed away after ingesting cow-milk formula are now filing baby formula lawsuits against manufacturers Abbott Laboratories, Inc. (Abbott) and Mead Johnson & Company, LLC (Mead Johnson).

Examples Of Lawsuits Against Similac & Enfamil Manufacturers In Madison County, VA

Elizabeth Miller, on her own behalf and as representative of the Estate of Hope Miller, Allyson Butler, on her own behalf and as representative of the Estate of Nihyalee Robison and Cayla Page, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor child Keymanni Figures, filed a complaint June 3 in the Madison County Circuit Court, VA against Mead Johnson & Company LLC, Mead Johnson Nutrition Company and Abbott Laboratories, alleging strict liability for design defect, strict liability for failure to warn, negligence and other claims.

Jahaana Dillard, on her own behalf and as representative of the Estate of Moses Dillard, Rebecca Hoff, on her own behalf and as representative of the Estate of Nivla Reaux, Michelle McCoy, on her own behalf and as representative of the Estate of Kameron McCoy, and others filed a complaint May 24 in the Madison County Circuit Court, VA against Mead Johnson & Company LLC, Mead Johnson Nutrition Company and Abbot Laboratories, alleging strict liability for design defect, strict liability for failure to warn, negligence, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation.

Similac & Enfamil

Talk To A Personal Injury Attorney To Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has a baby with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) issues due to the use of Similac & Enfamil, contact a personal injury attorney now. A professional and experienced lawyer will be able to guide you, educate you, and point you into the right direction. The manufactures failed warning you about those side effects that are now causing you and your child this pain. For more information about Product Liability cases, contact Malloy Law Offices, LLC, and a member of our team will walk you through the whole process.