NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit
NEC Baby Formula Overview
Families of premature babies who suffered from necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed Similac and Enfamil baby formula may be eligible to pursue a claim and seek financial compensation.
Baby formula has been used for decades by mothers of newborn infants as a substitute for breast milk. Unfortunately, many of Similac and Enfamil formulas are cow-milk-based products that have been linked to the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal bacterial infection, among premature babies. As a result, parents and family members of affected premature babies have filed lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson (the companies that manufacture Similac and Enfamil) for failing to warn consumers about the increased risk of developing NEC in babies from their baby formula products.
If your baby was born prematurely and suffered from necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed Similac and Enfamil infant formula, contact Maxwell Law Group today. We can answer your questions and review your case for free.
NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit Update
This section contains news about NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits and what plaintiffs can expect going forward. This section was last updated on: August 21, 2022.
August 19, 2022: All cases in Madison County, Illinois have been assigned to a presiding judge for pretrial purposes. The first discovery pool trial is scheduled to begin on March 2023, with subsequent trials in July 2023, October 2023, March 2024, and July 2024.
February 11, 2022: Mead Johnson stated that it is in favor of consolidating the NEC lawsuits into multidistrict litigation.
February 1, 2022: Abbott and Mead Johnson were granted by the courts regarding their request for an extension to respond to the consolidation.
December 18, 2021: A motion has been filed to the Supreme Court of Illinois to consolidated NEC baby formula lawsuits. The motion currently contains 33 lawsuits filed in Illinois city courts.
April 8, 2022: All NEC baby formula lawsuits filed in federal courts have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL 3026) in the Northern District of Illinois. Lawsuits filed in state courts are still pending in their respective states.
What is NEC?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a medical condition where tissues in the large intestines become inflamed. This inflammation can cause infection and death of intestinal tissues in newborns.
Premature babies are at an increased risk of developing NEC because their bodies are not yet physically mature. They may not be receiving adequate blood and oxygen, and they have not fully developed the necessary antibodies to fight off infection.
While symptoms may vary, the most common symptoms experienced by newborn babies with NEC are the following:
- Swollen belly
- Trouble feeding
- Dark or bloody stools
- Green vomit
- Food staying in the stomach longer
- Decrease in activity and lethargy
The baby’s healthcare provider will assess for signs and symptoms of NEC. An abdominal x-ray may be performed to check for abnormal gas patterns in the intestines.
In severe cases, a doctor may need to perform a needle insertion in the belly to check for fluid, which is a sign of a hole in the intestines.
Necrotizing enterocolitis can cause holes in the baby’s intestines, increasing the risk of infection as the bacteria leaks from the colon to the intestinal wall and abdominal cavity. This can cause an infection that can affect the baby’s ability to absorb nutrition, which could lead to growth and developmental delays. It can also cause scarring and narrowing of the intestines. If left untreated, the infection could spread into the blood and become a life-threatening condition.
Due to the severity of possible complications from NEC, treatment is immediately started after diagnosis. These include the following:
- Stopping all feedings temporarily
- Inserting a tube through the nose or mouth to remove air and fluid in the stomach and intestines
- Giving fluids and nutrition through IV treatment
- Antibiotics to treat or prevent infection
- Surgery in severe cases to remove the infected portion of the intestines
NEC Baby Formula Quick Facts
Substitute for breast milk feeding in newborn babies
- Similac: Abbott Laboratories
- Enfamil: Mead Johnson
Studies Linking Cow-based Baby Formula to NEC
Similac and Enfamil are made from cow milk with nutrients and ingredients added in an effort to resemble human breast milk. One of the earliest studies regarding the connection between NEC and cow-based formula was published in The Lancet in December 1990. The study concluded that NEC in exclusively formula-fed babies was 6 to 10 times more common compared to those babies who were breastfed, and developing NEC was 3 times more common for those babies who received both breast milk and formula feeding.
In a publication from the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2011, cow-based formula feeding was found to increase the rates of NEC among vulnerable premature infants.
A study published in March 2012 from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that exclusively breast-fed preterm infants had a 77% reduction in NEC compared to babies who were given cow milk-based formula.Another study published in the Cochrane in 2020 showed that artificial formulas do not provide the antibodies needed to protect a newborn baby from infections in the gastrointestinal system. Feeding babies with formula rather than breast milk can increase the risk of these health issues and can negatively affect growth and development.
NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
In 2011, a malpractice claim in Massachusetts alleged that a physician and neonatologist failed to diagnose and treat a baby’s NEC. The doctor ordered cow milk-based baby formula for a premature newborn. The baby developed metabolic problems and was admitted to the neonatal ICU. Unfortunately, the baby developed NEC and did not recover. The parents were awarded a $7 million verdict.
In another malpractice lawsuit in 2019 in New York, a two-day-old baby suffering from heart murmurs was given a combination of breast milk and cow milk-based formula. The baby later developed NEC. The claim alleged that the hospital could have exclusively given breast milk. The verdict awarded the parents $1.3 million.
Two lawsuits in May 2021 involved two premature babies who were given Similac and Enfamil while admitted to the hospital. They both developed NEC — one baby required surgery to remove a large portion of the intestine; the other baby passed away at only 16 days old.
NEC baby formula lawsuits allege that the manufacturers knew or should have known the risk of developing NEC associated with their products, and failed to warn parents, hospitals, clinics, and healthcare providers. The safety warning labels in these products only indicate that very low-birth-weight infants were at risk for gastrointestinal complications.
Similac manufacturer Abbott Laboratories faces at least 17 lawsuits (as of January 20, 2022) that are spread across eight different U.S. District Courts. However, with a growing number of families pursuing lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories, the baby formula manufacturer has filed a petition with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all federal cases as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Abbott Laboratories also proposed that U.S. District Judge Underhill of Connecticut should preside over the Similac litigation, arguing that Judge Underhill has the most familiarity with the subject matter due to him having ruled on the first several Similac cases. The U.S. JPML is expected to consider oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing in March 2022.
On April 8, 2022, the JPML decided to consolidate all federal NEC baby formula lawsuits into MDL 3026 in the Northern District of Illinois. Currently, there are 16 class actions pending in seven federal districts, and 20 potentially related cases in eight other districts. Lawsuits filed in state courts are still pending in their respective states.
On August 19, 2022, all cases filed in Madison County, Illinois, have been assigned to Honorable Dennis R. Ruth for all pretrial purposes. Thirty cases have been selected as part of the discovery pool. Expert discovery is expected to start in Fall 2022.
Discovery pool trials are scheduled to start on March 2023, with subsequent trials scheduled on July 2023, October 2023, March 2024, and July 2024.
How Maxwell Law Group Can Help
If your premature baby suffered from necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed Similac or Enfamil formula milk, Maxwell Law Group can help get you the compensation you deserve. Call (844) 525-7155 or fill out the form below and we’ll investigate your case at no charge to you.
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