What Every Parent Should Know About Necrotizing Enterocolitis
Most necrotizing enterocolitis (80% of cases) occurs in premature babies who are fed with formula instead of breast milk within the first two weeks of life. Recent reports indicate that, specifically, cow-milk-based formulas made by Enfamil, Similac, and others greatly increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies.
For various reasons, many hospitals use cow-based formulas when feeding premature babies in the NICU, and parents never know that their babies are at risk for NEC.
Some families of babies who developed NEC are filing lawsuits against the makers of formulas like Similac and Enfamil and doctors and hospitals. The lawsuits seek to hold them accountable for the injuries to their babies and failing to warn about the increased risk of NEC.
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most serious intestinal disease facing babies born prematurely. Intestinal tissue becomes inflamed or injured, which can lead to the death of the tissue and/or perforations in the intestinal walls.
When a baby has NEC, the intestines can leak waste and bacteria into the body and bloodstream. It can result in serious immediate medical complications, longer-term complications, and even death.
How Do Doctors Diagnose NEC?
Doctors will examine your baby and check for symptoms of NEC, which might include abdominal swelling. The doctor might test the following:
- Blood: blood tests can indicate whether there is bacteria or other indications that there is an infection
- Feces: fecal tests can determine if there is blood in the baby’s stool. It is not always visible to the naked eye.
- Abdomen: X-rays can show air bubbles in the abdomen, which can mean there is intestinal damage
What Complications Are Caused By NEC?
If the intestines are perforated, immediate surgery is often necessary to treat NEC. Doctors might have to remove dead tissue, repair holes, remove part of the intestines or perform a combination of procedures. A temporary “ostomy” is often required, as are additional surgeries.
In addition to surgical complications, NEC can also cause
- Sepsis-a severe blood infection that can affect the entire body and cause death if not treated quickly and effectively
- Difficulty absorbing nutrients and calories which can interfere with the development of premature babies
- Scarring and narrowing of the intestines
- The need for blood transfusions
- The need for high doses of antibiotics
- Intravenous feedings
- The need for a nasogastric tube to remove fluid and air from the babies’ abdomen
Does NEC Cause Longer-Term Health Problems?
Sometimes complications from NEC can affect the longer-term health of a baby. There are some common conditions that result from NEC.
Intestinal stricture is a narrowing of the intestines and occurs mostly in babies with NEC that don’t initially require surgery to remove dead intestinal tissue.
Intestinal stricture makes it difficult for food to pass through the system properly. It can also lead to a more serious intestinal blockage or bowel obstruction. The symptoms of an intestinal structure can be pain, bloating, bloody stool, and failure to thrive. Surgery is often required to remove a blockage.
Short bowel syndrome
Short bowel syndrome or short gut syndrome is a condition that can result from NEC -related surgery. It is a malabsorption condition that occurs because your body does not have sufficient small intestine to absorb calories and nutrients into the body, which is where most absorption occurs.
Short bowel syndrome can make it extremely difficult for young children to thrive, resulting in dehydration, malnutrition, and low weight.
Treating this condition often requires maintaining a strict diet, taking supplements, IV nutrition, and sometimes a feeding tube.
Some babies can experience other types of challenges related to NEC symptoms, including delayed and diminished cognitive and motor skill development. Developmental and growth delays are not uncommon in babies who require surgery from NEC.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10026-necrotizing-enterocolitis, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of your baby developing NEC. Consider speaking to your doctor about the following:
- Whether you are a risk for preterm delivery
- Are there medications you can take to boost the health of your unborn baby
- Feeding the baby breast milk instead of formula if it is born prematurely
Are You Eligible to File a Lawsuit Because of NEC?
There is research that shows premature babies who are fed formula have a greater risk of developing NEC and the dangerous complications that follow. Ask yourself-
- Was my baby premature?
- Did the hospital feed my baby with cow-based formula?
- Did my baby receive a diagnosis of NEC?
- Did I receive any warning that my baby could get sick from the cow-based formula?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” you might be able to file a lawsuit against the makers of Similac, Enfamil, or another baby formula.
Call Alonso Krangle, LLP To Find Out if You Are Entitled to Compensation from the Baby Formula Manufacturers
Call our lawyers today at 800-403-6191 to determine if you are entitled to file a baby formula lawsuit and collect compensation for your baby’s injuries. Alonso Krangle, LLP, fights for the rights of victims injured by dangerous products. If your baby has been injured, let us help you collect the maximum compensation allowed by law.