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Parents have filed lawsuits against baby formula makers after their children suffered necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious and life-threatening condition.

If your newborn was diagnosed with NEC, you might wonder whether this lawsuit affects you and your rights. Naturally, you want to know whether someone is at fault. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Gerling Law to learn more about the Similac lawsuit and whether you have a right to demand compensation for your child.

You can reach us online through our contact form or call to schedule a consultation. We represent families nationwide and throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky and have offices nearby in Evansville, Indianapolis, Owensboro, and Louisville.   

What Is NEC?

NEC is a gastrointestinal disease that primarily affects premature infants. Babies most at risk for the condition are those:

  • Born before 37 weeks,
  • Fed through a stomach tube (enteral nutrition), and
  • Who weigh less than 5.5 lbs. at birth.

While NEC affects about 1 in 1,000 premature infants, it impacts only 1 in 10,000 full-term babies.

With this condition, inflammation in the intestines kills tissue. It can lead to holes, bacteria leaking into the infant’s abdomen or bloodstream, and death.

What Are the Signs of NEC?

Between two and six weeks after birth, an infant may show signs of:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling,
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure,
  • Changes in body temperature,
  • Changes in breathing,
  • Diarrhea and bloody stool,
  • Green or yellow vomit,
  • Refusal to eat and lack of weight gain or weight loss, and
  • Sleepiness and unresponsiveness. 

A doctor will examine the infant and may run blood and fecal tests and X-rays to diagnose NEC.

How Do Doctors Treat NEC?

Because the infant’s intestines need to heal, doctors will stop oral or tube feedings and give the baby nutrients through an IV. They may insert a long tube through the child’s nose or mouth into the stomach to remove gas and fluid. They may also prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.

The infant might require surgery to repair a hole in their intestine or remove dead intestinal tissue in more serious cases. Sometimes, doctors surgically place a drain in the baby’s abdomen to remove fluids and gas.

What Causes NEC?

Doctors and scientists don’t know the exact cause of NEC. However, numerous studies and papers have discussed the link between cow-milk-based formula and NEC.

For example, a study published in 1990 connected NEC to cow-milk-based infant formula. In a study involving 926 preterm infants, NEC was 6 to 10 times more common in formula-fed babies than those given breast milk only or a combination of breast milk and formula.

A more recent study published in 2019 reviewed 12 complete trials involving 1,871 infants. The trials found formula almost doubled the risk of NEC.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also found that giving preterm infants human milk reduced the risk of NEC. According to the AAP, “One case of NEC could be prevented if 10 infants received an exclusive human milk diet, and 1 case of NEC requiring surgery or resulting in death could be prevented if 8 infants received an exclusive human milk diet.”

Recent Baby Formula Lawsuits

In May 2021, parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company, LLC, the makers of Similac. The parents allege the infant formula caused NEC and their child’s death.  

In June 2021, another family filed a lawsuit against Abbott and Mead Johnson, claiming their son suffered serious injuries from developing NEC. Their son was given Similac and Enfamil products at the hospital after his premature birth.

Similac and Enfamil are high-calorie, cow-milk-based formulas. The parents allege the formulas increase the risk of NEC, yet the makers didn’t include warnings on the product labels.

Has Your Child Suffered From NEC?

If your preemie was diagnosed with NEC, talk with their medical providers about your child’s nutrition before symptoms began. If your child was fed a cow-milk-based formula, such as Similac or Enfamil, contact Gerling Law.

We’re experienced personal injury and mass tort lawyers. We’ve represented many individuals harmed by dangerous and defective consumer products. We want to hear your story and talk with you about whether you have a right to demand compensation.

Give us a call or use our online form to schedule a free case evaluation.

Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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