Parents are suing the companies that make Similac and Enfamil baby formulas. The lawsuits allege their cow’s milk products caused necrotizing enterocolitis NEC in premature infants and that the manufacturers knew about the risks and did not warn parents or healthcare providers.
NEC is a serious and potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal disease that usually develops in the first two weeks of life in a premature infant fed cow’s milk formula and may be fatal in up to 50% of cases. NEC in premature infants causes intestinal inflammation, which can cause holes in the intestinal tract that allow bacteria from the intestine to leak into the abdomen or bloodstream, resulting in serious blood infections.
Symptoms of NEC include:
- abdominal pain and swelling,
- bloody stool,
- greenish-colored vomit, and
- lack of weight gain due to a decrease in feeding.
Many of the lawsuits allege that both manufacturers had a responsibility to warn parents and healthcare workers about the risk of NEC in premature infants when consuming their cow’s milk products. Instead, they marketed their products as safe and equal to or even superior substitutes to breast milk. Due to Mead Johnson’s and Abbott Laboratories’ marketing, parents and healthcare providers believed their cow’s milk products to be safe for premature infants. According to numerous lawsuits, both manufacturers are accused of deliberately ignoring studies as far back as 1990 that revealed NEC was up to 10 times more common in premature babies given cow’s milk formula.
Abbott and Mead Johnson are also accused of deliberately misleading consumers to believe their new “human milk fortifier” products are safe and made from human milk. Lawsuits allege the product term implies that it is derived from “human” milk, which is incorrect because the formula comes from cow’s milk but is mixed with breast milk when serving. These “human” milk fortifiers
are marketed as safe and necessary for the growth of preterm infants, although they are cows’ milk products known to cause NEC in premature infants. NICU nurses, doctors, and parents are unaware that many formula brands are fortified with or contain cow’s milk which is not recommended for premature infants. However, the products that contain it are marketed as a safe alternative to breast milk.
Parents who had a premature infant diagnosed with NEC that resulted in injury or death after being fed toxic baby formulas can file a lawsuit for potential compensation. If your premature baby was treated in the NICU and was diagnosed with NEC, our attorneys may be able to help you find out if your baby was given cow’s milk formula while being treated in the NICU.