Baby Formula Linked to Increased Risk for NEC in Premature Infants

More and more parents across the country are filing suit against manufacturers of cow-milk formula designed for preterm infants. Studies have provided evidence that cow-milk formula has been linked to a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies, the result of which can be deadly. Despite evidence of the risk posed by these products, they were still marketed as a safe, and even superior alternative to breast milk. As a result, many premature newborns developed NEC and have suffered serious injury and even death.

What is NEC?

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a deadly bacterial infection that affects primarily premature newborn infants. This condition, caused by the inability of the infant to digest food properly, leads to inflamed intestinal tissue, which causes the tissue to die. This can lead to holes in the intestinal walls, which allows harmful bacteria from the intestines to leak into the abdominal cavity, which can rapidly cause a very dangerous infection of the blood stream called sepsis.

While NEC cases can range in severity, with some only causing mild discomfort, others can quickly turn deadly for a newborn. For newborns weighing less than 3 pounds 5 ounces the mortality rate for NEC can be 50% or more. Nearly 9 out of 10 infants diagnosed with NEC are premature.

What Causes NEC?

In 1990, a multi-center study was performed in which 926 pre-term newborns were observed. Of the 926 newborns, 51, or roughly 5.5% developed necrotizing enterocolitis. The mortality rate for those diagnosed with NEC was 26%. This study found that infants that were fed cow milk formula only were 6-10 times more likely to develop NEC. Infants fed a mixture of human milk and formula were 3 times more likely to develop NEC. Among infants born 30 weeks or later, NEC was exceedingly rare among infants whose diet included breast milk. It was 20 times more likely in those fed formula only.

Formula Manufacturers Failed to Warn Consumers

For over 30 years, it has been known that formula poses a threat of increasing a preterm newborn’s risk of developing NEC, yet brands such as Similac and Enfamil, which are known for their cow-milk based formulas, continue to be produced and marketed as intended specifically for pre-term infants. Furthermore, they have failed to provide any warning of the harm that cow-milk formula can cause to pre-term babies.

By failing to warn consumers of the risks posed by their product, Similac and other cow-milk based formula companies deprive parents and caregivers the ability to make informed health decisions on behalf of their premature child. By advertising their products as being specifically designed for premature infants, these companies falsely lead parents to believe that they are safe for their baby to consume, even going so far as to market their products as being safer for a preterm infant than breast milk! As a result, many families have been devastated by the onset of NEC in their newborns, leading to severe and even fatal consequences.

Call Now.

If your baby has been diagnosed with NEC, The Yost Legal Group is here to help you through this difficult time. No parent should be left uninformed of the risks these cow-milk based products pose to their preterm newborns by manufacturers they trust to provide safe formula for their child. Act today by calling us at 1 (800) YOST LAW (967-8529) to hold these manufacturers accountable.

Link Between Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Cows’ Milk-Based Baby Formula and Fortifiers Exposed

The Yost Legal Group has produced an important educational video about the alarming link between certain types of baby formula and fortifiers (those that are specifically manufactured for premature infants) made with cows’ milk and Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies (babies born prior to 37 weeks gestation).

NEC is a serious gastrointestinal condition with a high morbidity rate that may require emergency intestinal surgery. It could lead to what is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome, where holes form in the intestinal wall and harmful toxins and fecal matter leak out, potentially leading to sepsis or even death.

Shortly after birth, when a premature infant is unable to breast and/or bottle feed, they are often fed cows’ milk-based formula and/or fortifiers through a feeding tube. However, researchers have concluded that the underdeveloped gastrointestinal tracts of premature babies have a difficult time digesting the proteins in cows’ milk. As a result, preterm infants that receive formula and/or fortifiers made using cows’ milk through their feeding tubes are much more likely to develop NEC. Unfortunately, this condition can be fatal, or require a lifetime of care.

“The manufacturers of Similac or Enfamil failed to warn parents and healthcare providers of the risks of premature infants ingesting their cows’ milk-based formulas and fortifiers – even though suitable alternatives were available.”

  • Tom Yost, Founder, The Yost Legal Group

Symptoms of NEC in Premature Infants Include:

  • Pain and swelling of the abdomen
  • Changes in a baby’s heart rate and blood pressure
  • Diarrhea and blood in the stool (sometimes not visible)
  • Vomiting that is yellow or green in color
  • Feeding intolerance or residuals
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Unusual lethargy

Manufacturers of Cows’ Milk-Based Formula and Fortifiers Withheld Information About Harm to Premature Infants

The manufacturers of cows’ milk-based formula and fortifiers, Similac and Enfamil, failed to warn parents and healthcare providers of the risks of premature infants ingesting their products. Despite suitable alternatives being available such as preterm infant formula and fortifiers made using human milk, mothers’ own breast milk, and human donor breast milk, the manufacturers of Enfamil and Similac continue to market their cows’ milk-based formulas and fortifiers for premature babies with feeding tubes, putting them at significant risk.

If you or a loved one’s premature infant has been diagnosed with NEC due to being fed cows’ milk-based formula and/or fortifiers, they may be entitled to compensation. Contact the defective product lawyers at The Yost Legal Group by filling out and submitting a contact form online or calling our office at 1-800-YOST-LAW (1-800-967-8529) for a free legal consultation today.