Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a deadly disease that can infect infants within the first two weeks of life. Babies sickened by NEC typically have been fed formula instead of breast milk.
NEC bacteria infects the walls of the baby’s intestines, starting with inflammation. The inflammation can create a crack or gap within the intestines, causing harmful germs to leak into the baby’s abdomen.
NEC is a very serious medical concern. If it is not treated, it can lead to serious infection or death.
Babies who are at-risk include:
- High-risk or premature babies who are fed formula by mouth or tube
- Babies who had a difficult delivery or had lowered oxygen levels
- Babies who have a higher number of red blood cells in circulation
- Babies with existing gastrointestinal infections
- Seriously ill babies
- Babies that have received a blood transfusion
Symptoms of NEC in Infants
Symptoms of an NEC infection in a child will normally develop the following in the first two weeks:
- Swollen or bloated belly
- Feedings that stay in the stomach but do not pass through the intestines
- Green fluid in the stomach
- Bloody stools
- Trouble breathing
- Low heart rate
Baby Formula Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Lawsuit
For over thirty (30) years the manufacturers of baby formula have known or should have known, that their products could cause necrotizing enterocolitis. Unfortunately, they have failed to warn doctors and the public of the potentially deadly risks associated with their baby formula(s).
- As early as 1990 (over 30 years ago), a study on 926 preterm infants found that NEC was six to ten times more common in formula-fed babies. (LANCET “Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis”)
- In 2016, a study of 1,587 infants was published in the scientific medical journal Breastfeeding Medicine. This study found that extremely premature infants who received an exclusive human milk–based diet had a significantly lower incidence of NEC and mortality. (Beyond Necrotizing Enterocolitis Prevention: Improving Outcomes with an Exclusive Human Milk–Based Diet)
- The Journal of Pediatrics published a study in 2010, that established when premature babies were fed an exclusive diet of mother’s milk, donor milk, and human milk fortifier, these babies were 90% less likely to develop surgical NEC. (An Exclusively Human Milk-Based Diet Is Associated with a Lower Rate of Necrotising Enterocolitis than a Death of Human Milk and Bovine Milk-Based Products)
- The U.S. Surgeon General published a report in 2011 stating, “For vulnerable premature infants, formula feeding is associated with higher rates of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)” In the same report, the Surgeon General concluded that premature infants who are not breastfed are 138% more likely to develop NEC. (The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding)
- In 2021 The Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics published a study that included the following … “Meta-analyses of 4 randomized clinical trials performed over the period 1983 to 2005 support the conclusion that feeding preterm infants human milk is associated with a significant reduction (58%) in the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). A more recent study of preterm infants fed an exclusive human milk diet compared with those fed human milk supplemented with cow-milk-based infant formula products noted a 77% reduction in NEC. One case of NEC could be prevented if 10 infants received an exclusive human milk diet, and 1 case of NEC requiring surgery or resulting in death could be prevented if 8 infants received an exclusive human milk diet.” (Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk)
- In a study published in 2014, it was reported: “Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease of premature infants and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. While the pathogenesis of NEC remains incompletely understood, it is well established that the risk is increased by the administration of infant formula and decreased by the administration of breast milk.” (Evidence-based feeding strategies before and after the development of necrotizing enterocolitis)
- A 2015 study stated in part, “There is a 50% reduction in the rate of NEC and/or LOS and a shortened length of hospital stay among the extremely low birth weight infants receiving MOM [mother’s own milk]…” (In time: human milk is the feeding strategy to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis)
- A paper was published in 2017 that compared two Randomized Clinical Trials. The paper found, “both trials found that an exclusive [Human Milk] diet results in a lower incidence of NEC. The paper also concluded that the use of DHM or bovine milk-based formula significantly increased the risk of NEC. (Current Knowledge of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Preterm Infants and the Impact of Different Types of Enteral Nutrition Products)
What is Claimed in Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuits?
The science shows the dangers of cow’s milk-based formula products in causing NEC and death in premature infants, yet the manufacturers of Similac and Enfamil baby formulas have done nothing to change their product, packaging, guidelines, instructions, and/or warnings.
The warnings and instructions on their baby formula products are broad and vague. The manufacturer never warns that Similac or Enfamil can significantly increase the risk of NEC and death.
Despite knowing that its product significantly increases the risk of NEC and death, the manufacturers of these baby formulas have deliberately chosen to omit a specific warning of NEC or death and deliberately failed to provide any detailed instructions or guidance on how to avoid NEC or death when feeding Similac or Enfamil to an infant.
Questions About a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuit? Contact a Johnson//Becker Lawyer for a Free Case Review.
The lawyers at Johnson//Becker are pursuing litigation against on behalf of families affected by baby formula. If your infant has been sickened by baby formula, you should be aware that you may be entitled to holding the manufactures of the defective baby formula accountable by filing a lawsuit.
We offer a Free Case Evaluation. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386.
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