Serious Lawyers for Serious Injuries

NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

Was your premature baby diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis after receiving Enfamil or Similac infant formula? You may be eligible to file a necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuit against Mead Johnson (the maker of Enfamil) or Abbott Laboratories (the manufacturer of Similac). The attorneys of Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm are currently helping clients pursue NEC baby formula lawsuits against companies that hid information about the risks of feeding cow’s milk-based formulas to premature infants.

Bovine milk formulas like Enfamil and Similac have been linked through numerous research studies to the development of NEC, a gastrointestinal infection, in low birth weight babies. NEC is a severe and often fatal disease. Yet even with knowledge of the dangers associated with their products, these manufacturing companies failed to disclose important data that could allow parents and healthcare providers to make safe, informed choices.

Enfamil and Similac baby formula lawsuits aim to hold accountable these corporations that concealed the hazards of their products from consumers. Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories both manufacture cow milk-based formulas that were advertised specifically to premature infants. These products claimed to support the health and nutrition of premature, underweight newborns. Instead, these products led to numerous cases of illness and death in vulnerable infants.

At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we fight for the rights of our clients. We have the knowledge and expertise necessary to go up against large companies that endanger the lives of consumers. To learn more about how we can represent your family during a time of tragedy, reach out to our law firm today. Our NEC baby formula lawyers can explain your rights and help you decide if filing a baby formula lawsuit is the right choice for your family.

Who Is Eligible to File a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuit?

If your child suffered illness or death after an NEC diagnosis, an NEC baby formula lawyer from Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm may be able to help. Parents and guardians of premature infants fed cow’s milk products prior to an NEC diagnosis may be entitled to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit against the makers of Enfamil or Similac.

If your family meets the following qualifications, you may be entitled to take legal action with the help of our NEC baby formula lawyers.

  • Your baby was born prematurely.
  • Your newborn was fed cow’s milk-based Enfamil or Similac products.
  • Your infant was diagnosed with NEC and suffered injury or death as a result.

An NEC baby formula lawsuit can be a means of recovery for parents of premature babies diagnosed with NEC after being fed baby formula. If your baby developed NEC after consuming cow milk formula, learn about how to take action against baby formula manufacturers like Abbott and Mead Johnson. A Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm attorney can provide more information about NEC lawsuits during a free case evaluation.

The Current Status of Baby Formula Lawsuits

The necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) lawyers at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm continue to keep our clients informed of the most recent developments in NEC litigation. Please check our website for updates and reach out to our office with questions. Our lawyers are always available to provide support and answers.

March 2022

Last year in 2021, there were approximately 50 lawsuits filed against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson for their involvement in multiple cases of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Currently, there are dozens of NEC baby formula lawsuits still pending in federal courts in several states across the nation. Similac and Enfamil baby formula lawsuits claim that the companies failed to protect premature babies from the known risks of their baby formula products.

There is not yet a class action lawsuit against the Enfamil or Similac makers, but one may be coming soon. Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories have both filed motions to have cases consolidated in a single court, in what is referred to as multidistrict litigation (MDL). The judge assigned to oversee this consolidated NEC MDL class action will likely be housed in either Illinois or Connecticut. A decision is expected to be reached soon.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Lawsuits in Recent Years

A number of Similac and Enfamil necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuits in recent years have reached successful outcomes.

  • In Massachusetts, a $7,050,000 verdict was reached in 2011.
  • Two NEC lawsuits in New York state reached a $5 million verdict and $1.35 million settlement.
  • A necrotizing enterocolitis baby formula case in California settled for $10 million.
  • In 2018, an NEC wrongful death case in Illinois obtained a $2,970,000 verdict.

Other cases have been resolved in recent years, including ones in Michigan ($50,000 settlement), Louisiana ($347,000 settlement), and Florida ($900,000 settlement).

These settlement and verdict amounts may seem high. But keep in mind, the average total treatment cost for an infant with NEC is $500,000 in medical bills. This doesn’t include other ways the child’s and parents’ lives are impacted. Pain and suffering, time taken off work, the mental and emotional anguish associated with the loss or illness of a child, and the cost of care after recovery can’t begin to be covered by this amount of money.

Many past cases have been medical malpractice lawsuits directed toward doctors and healthcare providers who fed cow’s milk formulas to preterm babies. Recently, however, cases have been directed toward Abbott Laboratories and the Mead Johnson company themselves.

These Similac and Enfamil NEC lawsuits recognize that, in many situations, medical professionals were operating under the belief that the infant formulas were, in fact, safe for use among newborns. The lawsuits claim that the manufacturing companies, however, were deliberately deceptive. Rather than being a case of medical malpractice, it was a case of defective baby formula, as the products were advertised falsely. Similac and Enfamil lawsuits claim that the companies hid information that could have helped doctors and nurses care for babies more effectively and safely.

The issue is much larger than simply one doctor or nurse making an error. NEC infant formula lawsuits acknowledge that countless newborns could have been saved from developing NEC had Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson only been honest about the risks associated with their cow milk formula products.

Can a Cow Milk Formula Cause Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Cow milk formulas do not directly cause necrotizing enterocolitis. But scientific research has shown that premature infants who are fed cow’s milk-based formula like Enfamil and Similac have a high chance of developing NEC. Necrotizing enterocolitis is a disease that can have multiple causes. There are certain factors that increase the likelihood that a preterm infant will develop NEC. Being fed cow’s milk formula is one of the top factors.

The majority of infants who develop NEC were born prematurely. Many premature infants are in poor health and are required to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Due to health complications, it’s not uncommon for low birth weight preterm infants to be fed cow milk-based formula over the mother’s breast milk.

Sadly, we have come to realize the strong association between a diet of powdered infant formula after a premature birth and the development of necrotizing enterocolitis. In the past several years, numerous infant formula trials showed the same alarming results among formula-fed babies. The makers of Enfamil and Similac were aware of this association and continued to market their cow milk baby formulas as appropriate for underweight newborns. For this reason, newborn NEC formula lawsuits are being filed by families across the United States.

Which Infant Groups Are Most at Risk?

The infant group most at risk of developing NEC is infants born prematurely. The Cleveland Clinic has stated that nine out of ten infants diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis are born preterm. On average, only about 1 in 10,000 infants affected by NEC was born full-term.

Most infants who develop NEC do so within the first two to six weeks of life. While the chance of a premature infant developing NEC is not particularly high without the influence of other factors (about 5-12% of premature infants are affected), incident rates are disproportionately high among preterm babies fed Similac and Enfamil cow’s milk formulas.

Premature babies are more susceptible to an intestinal infection like NEC due to their lower birth weights, weaker immune systems, and underdeveloped digestive systems. NEC in premature infants can cause lifelong damage. If a preterm infant is able to survive the disease, it is rare that they will have no lingering effects.

Research Showing the Link Between Baby Formula and NEC

Similac and Enfamil formula products have been subject to rigorous scientific study in recent years. The cow’s milk-based formula products manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and the Mead Johnson company have been consistently found to be a factor in cases of NEC in premature infants.

For more than three decades, research has time and again shown cow’s milk infant formulas to be linked to NEC in preterm infants. As more studies have been conducted, the risks of cow’s milk-based formula for low birth weight newborns have become clearer in the scientific community.

Yet the companies that make these infant formulas, Abbott Laboratories and the Mead Johnson company, have taken measures to suppress this data. These Similac and Enfamil baby formulas are still marketed for premature infants. No mention of the risks has been included on warning labels, product advertisements, or any other consumer-facing publications.

It’s not just parents and caregivers who rely on warning labels. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals depend on this information to know how to appropriately use a product. NEC lawsuits are being filed because it is never acceptable for a company to market a product to a specific demographic that can be killed by its use. Infant formula lawsuits stop companies from profiting from a product that is fatal to its users.

Below are a few of the research studies that have looked into the effects of cow’s milk-based formula on a premature newborn baby’s digestive health.

1990

A study published in The Lancet magazine was conducted on 926 preterm infants. Researchers found that premature infants fed cow’s milk formula only were up to 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with NEC than their peers who were fed an exclusively human breast milk diet. The study concluded that with a decrease in the use of human breastmilk and increase in formula feeding in British neonatal units, there could be as many as 500 more cases of NEC per year. An estimated 100 of these premature babies would die from NEC.

2010

A study titled “An exclusively human milk-based diet is associated with a lower rate of necrotizing enterocolitis than a diet of human milk and bovine milk-based products” conducted research on 207 extremely premature babies. The study found that infants were 90% less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis when fed a diet of human breast milk alone.

2011

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding named NEC one of the primary risks associated with feeding vulnerable infants cow’s milk-based formulas. It was warned that a premature newborn who was not fed an only human breast milk diet could be up to 138% more likely to develop NEC.

2014

The study “Evidence-based feeding strategies before and after the development of necrotizing enterocolitis” determined that breast milk is the most effective protective agent for NEC. Researchers noted that, by the time of the study, it was “well established” that the risk of NEC is increased by infant formula feeding and decreased by breast milk feeding.

2015

This study first published in Portuguese found breast milk to be the most effective feeding strategy to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis. Extremely low birth weight preterm infants fed mother’s milk alone were up to 50% less likely to develop NEC and experienced shorter hospital stays and fewer overall health complications.

2016

This study measured the health results of infants fed an exclusive human milk diet against those who received a bovine based diet. A total of 1,587 infants were involved in the study from four centers in Texas, Illinois, Florida, and California. The human breastmilk diet-fed groups were associated with much lower rates of both NEC diagnosis and mortality after diagnosis.

2019

This study asked the question: “When a mother’s own breast milk is not available, does feeding preterm or low birth weight infants with formula rather than donor breast milk affect digestion, growth, and the risk of severe bowel problems?” Study results determined that preterm babies are roughly seven times more likely to develop NEC when fed cow’s milk-based baby formulas over human milk.

2021

Last year, two pieces of important research emerged. In March 2021, a study determined that one case of NEC could be prevented for every 10 infants who were fed a diet of human breast milk. The study found that preterm babies fed exclusively human breast milk showed a 77% reduction in NEC cases. Another study published in October 2021 found new evidence that premature babies who receive bovine formulas are at significantly higher risk of NEC than those fed mother’s breast milk exclusively.

As more parents are filing baby formula lawsuits, more consumers are becoming aware of the risks of bovine milk formulas for preterm newborns. Baby formula NEC cases can be prevented. Part of the goal of infant formula lawsuits is to prevent future cases of NEC before they happen.

What Are the Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal infection that is often fatal in newborns. The baby’s intestines become inflamed and suffer tissue death (called necrosis). When this happens, the affected infant is unable to process food or perform normal digestive functions.

This leads to severe malnourishment as nutrients are unable to be absorbed. When bowel tissue dies, holes in the intestines can cause the infection to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. A preterm infant with a weak immune system has little chance of successfully fighting such a severe infection. In its later stages, NEC is usually fatal.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty feeding or formula intolerance
  • Low blood pressure and low body temperature
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Bloody stools
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
  • Presence of green or yellow bile
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Apnea (pauses in breathing)
  • Jaundice

The Long-Term Health Complications of NEC

Long-term complications after recovering from NEC may include:

  • Malnutrition and associated complications
  • Poor growth
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Metabolic bone disease (MBD)
  • Neurodevelopmental defects
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Poor function in other organs
  • Chronic health issues

It’s important to begin treating NEC right away. Speak to your doctor if you notice any troubling symptoms in your newborn child. After bringing a premature baby home from the hospital, parents may attribute a sign like lethargy or feeding intolerance to normal adjustment issues. Waiting can result in catastrophic consequences. Seek medical care immediately if you observe any of the symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis listed above.

How Fatal Is NEC in Newborns?

The lower the birth weight, the higher the NEC fatality rate after a diagnosis. NIH Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center (GARD) data gives the following fatality rates for NEC based on body weight.

  • Newborns over 2,500 grams have a mortality rate of 0% to 20%.
  • Infants weighing less than 1,500 grams have a mortality rate of 10% to more than 50%, depending on the severity of the necrotizing enterocolitis and the health of the infant.
  • Extremely low birth rate infants weighing 1,000 grams or less suffer mortality rates of 40% to 100%.

As mentioned, infants who do recover from NEC generally face a lifetime of physical and cognitive health impairments. NEC baby injury lawsuits take into account the cost of future care a child who overcomes NEC will require.

How an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit Can Help Your Family

Learning your newborn child has a deadly illness is life-changing. After your family receives an NEC diagnosis, the future is uncertain. Your immediate focus is on working with your physician to save your child’s life and prevent future health complications to the extent it is possible. The road to recovery is long and costly, involving round-the-clock care, focused treatments, and highly specialized procedures and medications.

It’s unrealistic to expect that most parents are able to afford such an immense and unexpected expense. NEC infant formula lawsuits help secure the financial futures of families struggling under medical debt. When you work with an attorney from Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm to file a baby formula lawsuit, we will carefully calculate the losses you have sustained because of the disease. Then, we’ll make sure your family is fully and fairly compensated, so your child can continue to receive the care they need.

An NEC formula lawsuit can have an even more widespread impact, reaching beyond your own family to other current and future families. By holding the Mead Johnson company and Abbott Laboratories accountable for their gross negligence, we can force them to change their policies. We can be part of the effort to ensure products are manufactured and marketed ethically and responsibly.

Throughout recent history, lawsuits just like this have forced positive change in the manufacturing industry. Safer automobiles, cleaning products, medical devices, and children’s toys have resulted from legal action against negligent companies. When the lives of the most vulnerable members of society—newborn infants—are in jeopardy, it is even more important that we, as personal injury attorneys, be the voice for those who can’t defend themselves.

Which Products Are Involved in Baby Formula Lawsuits?

The infant formula brands facing NEC lawsuits are Enfamil and Similac. Enfamil (manufactured by Mead Johnson Nutrition) and Similac (manufactured by Abbott Laboratories) are responsible for producing numerous cow’s milk-based products designed for premature newborns. NEC warning labels are not provided on any of these companies’ cow’s milk-based infant formula products.

Mead Johnson

  • Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula
  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal High Protein
  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal with Iron
  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 30 Cal with Iron
  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 20 Cal with Iron
  • Enfamil 24 Cal Infant Formula
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier

Abbott Laboratories

  • Similac NeoSure Formula
  • Similac Special Care 20, 24, 24 High Protein, or 30
  • Similac Expert Care Alimentum Hypoallergenic Formula
  • Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid

The problem is not that these products exist. The problem is that these products contain severe health hazards to the group they are marketed to, and these hazards are not disclosed.

The Mead Johnson company, for example, advertises its Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula as the best formula for premature babies. However, Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula is proven to be linked to NEC in premature babies. Nowhere on the product’s label is this made known. In another example, Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier claims to be specifically designed for “premature or low birth weight infants.” Yet the company fails to publish in any advertising or warning materials that this formula can significantly increase a premature baby’s risk of NEC.

Compensation in Baby Formula Lawsuits

A premature baby fed Similac, Enfamil formula, or other milk-based formulas may be facing a lifetime of medical expenses after NEC. Through legal action against the manufacturing companies, parents are working to stop wrongdoing and to obtain financial compensation to cover the expenses they may otherwise never be able to afford. Compensation available in an NEC baby formula lawsuit may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Hospitals stays
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical testing and procedures
  • Cost of 24-hour care, feeding, and monitoring
  • Ongoing expenses associated with healthcare after recovery
  • Accommodations and therapies needed to address long-term complications
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Funeral and burial costs and loss of a loved one (in cases of wrongful death)

When to File an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

If your family has been harmed by the wrongful actions of a manufacturing company, now is the time to take legal action. Litigation against these corporations is still in the beginning stages. Our lawyers take these cases seriously, and we are focused on working effectively and efficiently to get our clients help when they need it most.

The corporations that caused harm to so many premature newborn infants should not be allowed to continue in their willful wrongdoing. We believe that our legal efforts can force the manufacturers of Enfamil and Similac to change the way they handle scientifically-proven information about their products. Let our lawyers begin helping you today. We want to set you and your child on the best path to recovery as soon as possible.

Choosing the Right Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Lawyer

The attorneys at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm are ready to answer your questions. We offer free consultations to discuss your case details. There is never a fee to meet with an attorney from our firm to learn more about your legal options. We also take most cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that you never need to worry about payment up front. We only receive payment if we win your case for you.

Contact our office to schedule a free consultation. We understand how challenging this time is for your family. Let us offer you the support you need to move toward recovery and peace of mind.

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