Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Baby Formula, and Lawsuits
WebMD describes Necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, as “a serious disease that affects the intestines of premature infants” that typically “happens within the first 2 weeks of life in babies who are fed formula instead of breast milk.”
Now, families of premature babies who developed NEC are filing lawsuits against the makers of some baby formulas for failing to warn them about the potential risk of their infants developing this life threatening infection.
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a condition marked by the invasion of bacteria. In necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteria attack the intestinal walls, which results in inflammation. Such inflammation in preterm babies can lead to cracks that allow the bacteria to leak into the abdomen.
If not treated immediately, NEC can lead to a deadly sepsis infection.
How Does Formula Cause Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
The medical profession is not entirely certain what causes necrotizing enterocolitis. But, researchers do know that it is much more common in premature infants who receive formula instead of breast milk. Some doctors speculate that because preemies have underdeveloped lungs and intestines, they have restricted blood and oxygen flow. The result is difficulty digesting their food and fighting off infections.
According to research, cow’s milk formulas such as Similac and Enfamil contribute to the increased risk of developing NEC. The increased risk is substantial enough to cause parents to worry about their babies’ treatment in the neonatal unit after their preterm deliveries.
The link between necrotizing enterocolitis and formulas like Similac and Enfamil is evident enough to cause hundreds of families to file lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson Company for failing to warn them of the danger to their newborns.
Who is Most at Risk for Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Any newborn baby is at some risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis. But, it is most common in preterm babies who are born under 3.5 lbs. According to WebMD, those at highest risk of necrotizing enterocolitis include “high-risk or premature babies who are fed formula by mouth or tube.”
What Are Some Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Symptoms can vary, but generally, infants with necrotizing enterocolitis can develop the following during their first two weeks-
- Green abdominal fluid
- Bloody stools
- Swollen abdomen
- Bloated abdomen
- Stagnant digestion
- Low heart rate
- Breathing difficulty
- Obvious fatigue
If your doctor observes any of these conditions, they will likely order tests in the NICU to determine their cause. Your baby might undergo x-rays, tests for fluid, and blood tests.
Can Necrotizing Enterocolitis Be Treated?
When necrotizing enterocolitis is not detected in time or it progresses too quickly to treat effectively, it can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis. Sepsis is often deadly.
However, if NEC is caught quickly, doctors might be able to treat your newborn with IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, and other non-surgical treatments.
However, sometimes, the infection does not heal as planned. The necrotizing enterocolitis and dead tissue that results may have caused a hole to form in the intestines or elsewhere. When this occurs, surgery is usually necessary to remove the dead tissue and any part of the intestines that might have ruptured or weakened. Sometimes, doctors must perform an “ostomy,” which reroutes the intestines or bowel to the abdomen.
The long-term effects of NEC surgery can include narrowing or blocking of the intestines or bowel, which can lead to the need for additional surgeries. NEC can also cause a lifetime of nutritional deficiencies.
Is NEC Preventable?
There is no certain way to prevent NEC. But, studies show that babies who receive only breast milk, even donor breast milk, are less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis, especially those born prematurely.
Premature babies might need to be fed through a bottle or tube for various reasons. The mother might have trouble nursing, or the baby might have health problems that make it impossible for the mother to nurse while the baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit. In these situations, formula feeding might be the best decision.
But, how can parents decide without incomplete information? Did you know that human milk might be best for a premature baby’s nutrition? Did anyone tell you that cows milk based formulas might significantly increase the risk of damage to a newborn’s intestinal tissue or the abdominal cavity? Were you given the option to use donor milk?
These are all important questions that might be critical to anyone considering filing a baby formula lawsuit. Our law firm is reviewing lawsuits that seek to hold the manufacturers accountable for the serious injuries their formula can cause.
What Are NEC Formula Lawsuits?
Some families are trying to hold accountable the makers of formulas like Similac and Enfamil. These are families with preemies who developed NEC after receiving formula in the NICU. Some of the infants suffered severe injuries that required surgery, while others had fatal injuries.
The lawsuits allege that the makers of Similac and Enfamil, Abbott Laboratories, and Mead Johnson Company had a duty to warn them of the increased risk of NEC among preterm babies. The families are seeking damages, claiming the failure to warn of the dangers of NEC rendered them incapable of making an informed decision about the care of their baby.
You are entitled to know that the formula the NICU is feeding your baby can increase the risk of deadly bacterial infections. Manufacturers have a duty to warn doctors and consumers/patients of dangers they know about or should know about. The warnings should be on their products labels.
Exercise your legal rights when baby formula manufacturers fail to warn and injure your child. You might be entitled to financial compensation.
Call Our Baby Formula Lawyers if Your Baby Was Diagnosed with NEC
Call Alonso Krangle, LLP, if your child was born prematurely, fed formula, and diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis. We will gladly provide you with a free case evaluation and determine if you are entitled to seek damages from the makers of baby formula.
Did your child need medical care or surgery after being diagnosed with NEC? Did your child receive formula with cow’s milk like Similac or Enfamil?
Call us today at 800-403-6191 to find out if you can file a baby formula lawsuit.