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.