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If you have been listening to the news in recent months, you might have heard that parents are filing lawsuits against Similac and Enfamil after their babies developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

But do these suits have merit? Are families likely to receive compensation?

The BK Law, LLC team is here to tell you everything you need to know. 

Why Are Families Filing Baby Formula NEC Lawsuits?

For years, organizations like Similac (Abbott Laboratories, Inc.) and Enfamil (Mead Johnson & Company, LLC) have marketed their formulas as a safe alternative to breast milk. Unfortunately, their claims may not be true.

The high-calorie, cow’s milk-based baby formulas sold by these companies have been linked to a gastrointestinal disorder known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Neither Enfamil nor Similac includes any warnings about this danger on their packaging.

Now, the parents of premature babies who developed NEC after consuming Enfamil and Similac products are filing product liability and wrongful death lawsuits against the companies.

The families allege that the manufacturers failed to inform them of the risks associated with their products.

Which Products Are Mentioned in the Baby Formula Lawsuits?

Families throughout the US are filing NEC lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories, Inc. concerning the following products:

  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier
  • Similac Alimentum Expert Care
  • Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
  • Similac Special Care 20
  • Similac Special Care 24
  • Similac Special Care 30
  • Similac NeoSure

Meanwhile, plaintiffs have named the following products in lawsuits filed against Mead Johnson & Company, LLC:

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

At the time of writing, these products are still available for sale in grocery stores throughout the nation. Neither company has issued any recalls.

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What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious gastrointestinal issue that most commonly occurs in premature babies. The condition can perforate the patient’s intestine, causing it to leak bacteria into the abdomen or bloodstream.

Babies who develop NEC often experience symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Tenderness
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal distention (swelling)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lack of weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Low blood pressure

The most common treatments for NEC include:

  • Antibiotics
  • IV fluids
  • Blood transfusion
  • Nasogastric tube insertion
  • Surgery

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, about 23.5 percent of infants who develop NEC lose their lives. Children who survive can continue to experience neurodevelopmental and gastrointestinal issues for the rest of their lives.

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Is There Evidence That Cow’s Milk-Based Formulas Cause NEC?

A great deal of evidence shows babies who consume cow’s milk formulas such as Enfamil and Similac have a higher risk of developing NEC.

In 1990, the Lancet published a study that found that NEC is up to 10 times more common in babies who exclusively eat formula than those who only consume breast milk. 

A study published in Breastfeeding Medicine in May 2020 came to a similar conclusion. It found that including a cow’s milk-derived fortifier in a baby’s diet may result in “an increase in adverse outcomes” including NEC.

When a team of researchers in the UK examined the “relationship between exposure to bovine milk products and surgical NEC in preterm infants” they discovered that, “NEC is less common in breastfed infants but may occur following introduction of bovine milk product fortifiers.” Their study concluded that “bovine products appear to have a causative role in surgical NEC.”

With all of this information taken into account, it is little surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that exclusively breastfeeding is “ideal nutrition” and infants weaned before 12 months “should not receive cow’s milk feedings.”

Who Can File a Baby Formula NEC Lawsuit?

A parent may file a lawsuit against Mead Johnson & Company, LLC or Abbott Laboratories, Inc. if their baby:

  • Was born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • Consumed Enfamil or Similac baby formula
  • Received an NEC diagnosis
  • Required medical treatment or lost their life

Anyone who believes they may be eligible for compensation should consult with an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. There is usually no charge for these consultations.

How Much Compensation Could Impacted Families Receive?

The amount of compensation available to the parents of premature babies who developed NEC after eating Enfamil or Similac formula depends on a wide range of factors, including:

  • The cost of the child’s medical treatment
  • The expenses associated with the baby’s ongoing care and rehabilitation
  • The amount of time the parents missed from work due to the NEC diagnosis
  • The impact the NEC diagnosis will have on the child’s quality of life
  • The amount of pain and suffering incurred as a result of the NEC diagnosis
  • The mental anguish caused by the NEC diagnosis

The parents of babies who lost their lives after receiving an NEC diagnosis might also be able to claim damages for the cost of the child’s burial or cremation.

Families who want to know more about the amount of compensation they could receive can talk to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. They will be able to analyze the specifics of the case and provide an estimate.

Experienced Product Liability and Wrongful Death Law Firm

Do you believe you may be eligible to file a product liability or wrongful death suit against Mead Johnson & Company, LLC or Abbott Laboratories, Inc.? If so, please do not hesitate to set up a free consultation with the team at BK Law, LLC. We would be happy to review your case and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.


Category:Product Liability/Mass Tort