The Alvarez Law Firm: Seeking Justice from Similac and Enfamil caused NEC

Families affected by NEC face tremendous emotional and financial burdens. The condition can lead to long-term health issues for surviving infants, including short bowel syndrome, developmental delays, and ongoing medical care needs. For families who have lost a child to NEC, the emotional toll is immeasurable. The lawsuits seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, wrongful death, and other related damages. The Alvarez Law Firm is committed to providing expert legal representation for these families, offering compassionate support and fighting to ensure they receive the justice and financial recovery they deserve. If your family has been impacted, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your options.

What is NEC?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe and often fatal gastrointestinal condition that primarily affects premature infants. NEC causes inflammation and bacterial invasion of the intestines, which can lead to the following:

  • Tissue death
  • Bowel perforation
  • Severe infections

According to the Merck Manual, an authoritative medical resource, NEC is the most prevalent gastrointestinal emergency among newborn infants. Over 90% of NEC cases occur in premature infants, affecting up to 8% of infants admitted to the NICU. The Mayo Clinic states that premature newborns exclusively fed breast milk have a significantly lower risk of developing NEC.

Due to their weaker immune and digestive systems, premature infants struggle to combat infections. They also have reduced blood flow, and the resulting lack of oxygen reaching the intestinal tissue can create conditions for bacteria to enter the abdomen or bloodstream.

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Symptoms and Signs of NEC

Primary symptoms and signs of NEC may include the following:

  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Red, blue, or gray discoloration of the belly
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Unpredictable body temperature, blood pressure,
  • breathing, and heart rate
  • Refusing to eat
  • Yellow or green vomit

NEC can also lead to various other health problems, such as:

  • Developmental delays
  • Growth failure
  • Intestinal stricture (narrowing of the intestines)
  • Peritonitis (abdominal infection)
  • Poor neurodevelopment
  • Sepsis
  • Short bowel/gut syndrome

Pediatrics Nationwide reports that up to 50% of babies who develop NEC die from the disorder, and nearly 50% of the infants who survive develop “significant developmental and cognitive disability.”

Research Showing the Risk of Baby Formula in Premature Infants

  • Recent studies have indicated a strong link between certain cow's milk-based baby formulas, including Similac, and an increased risk of NEC in preterm infants.
  • Going back to 1990, a Lancet medical journal study of 926 preterm infants revealed that formula-fed preterm babies had a six to ten times higher risk of developing NEC compared to their breast-fed counterparts.
  • In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics published findings stating that a mother’s own milk is the "optimal" choice for premature infants, and if not available, donor milk would be "advantageous."
  • A 2014 study found that profoundly preterm newborns on a diet of cow’s-milk-based formula had a 320% higher risk of developing NEC compared to other premature infants. The study emphasized that the risk of NEC increases with the administration of infant formula and decreases with the administration of breast milk.

Although formula products and fortifiers based on human milk have been available since 2014, manufacturers continue to produce their products using cow's milk. Additionally, these companies have not disclosed the risks of NEC to the public or the medical community.

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Allegations Against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson

Despite growing evidence, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, the manufacturer of Similac and Enfamil, has been accused of failing to warn healthcare providers and parents about these risks adequately. Plaintiffs allege that despite scientific evidence indicating these risks, Abbott Laboratories did not provide sufficient warnings about the risks of NEC associated with their cow's milk-based formulas.

The lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson are also based on the following serious allegations:

  • Negligence: The company is accused of negligence in its duty to ensure the safety of its products and provide adequate instructions for their safe use.
  • Product Liability: The claims argue that Similac and Enfamil formulas are inherently dangerous when used as intended for feeding premature infants and that Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson should be held liable for the injuries and deaths resulting from NEC.
  • Consumer Fraud: In some cases, plaintiffs assert that the company engaged in deceptive marketing practices, promoting Similac as safe and effective for premature infants without disclosing the potential dangers.

Defendants in NEC lawsuits do not include medical providers and hospitals, as they were not made aware of the life-threatening risks associated with Similac and Enfamil formula products such as Similac Special Care and Enfamil NueroPro Enfacare. Instead, the legal actions target the formula manufacturers.

The primary goals of the lawsuits include the following:

  • Accountability: Holding Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson accountable for their alleged negligence and failure to warn about the risks of NEC.
  • Justice for Affected Families: Providing financial compensation to families who have endured NEC's physical, emotional, and economic impacts.
  • Public Awareness: Raising awareness about the potential dangers of cow's milk-based formulas for preterm infants and advocating for better safety measures and warnings.

Infant Formula NEC Lawsuit Updates

September 2023

The number of cases in the NEC infant formula MDL has increased by 80, bringing the total filed cases to 263. This is nearly three times the number of cases since the beginning of 2023.

July 2023

The statute of limitations has become an issue in some infant formula NEC lawsuits. Parents whose infants suffered injuries argue that the 2-year timeframe for filing their complaints should begin from the time they discovered that the formula caused the alleged problems with their children.

May 2022

On April 8, 2022, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued a transfer order establishing MDL 3026, In Re: Abbott Laboratories, et al., Preterm Infant Nutrition Products Liability Litigation. Cases were transferred to the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois under the Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Chief Judge.

Baby Formula Lawsuits Filed

In May 2021, the Madison-St. Clair Record reported a case where a premature male infant was fed Enfamil and/or Similac cow’s-milk-based baby formula in the hospital. The infant developed NEC, leading to the surgical removal of a significant portion of his intestines, so the parents filed a lawsuit seeking financial relief and a trial by jury.

During the same month, another lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. In this case, the parents of a boy born at 31 weeks are suing Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company for the boy’s death from NEC at only 16 days old. The infant had been given Similac infant formula in the NICU at Valley Children’s Hospital in Merced, California.

What Compensation Can Be Recovered in a Baby Formula Lawsuit?

If your infant developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed Similac or Enfamil formula in a neonatal intensive care unit, we will seek the following damages:

  • Past and future medical expenses to treat your child’s injuries
  • Past and future pain and suffering resulting from your child’s injuries, both physically and mentally
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of love, affection, care, companionship
  • Punitive damages, when available
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How The Alvarez Law Firm Can Help

The baby formula lawsuit is a crucial step toward justice for families of preterm infants affected by NEC. By holding Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson  accountable for their actions and raising public awareness about the risks associated with cow's milk-based formulas and fortifiers, these lawsuits aim to protect the most vulnerable infants and ensure that parents and healthcare providers have the information they need to make safe and informed choices.

If your family has been affected by NEC and you believe it may be linked to Similac baby formula, we encourage you to reach out to The Alvarez Law Firm today.  We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and determine the best course of action, helping you navigate the complexities of your case and work towards achieving a favorable outcome.

Let’s talk about your case.

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