Necrotizing enterocolitis is a severe health condition that results when premature babies drink cow’s milk-based formula. Even though cow’s milk formulas have repeatedly been linked to this illness, many baby formula manufacturers refuse to warn consumers of the potential risks associated with these formulas.

Over the past several years, numerous law firms have initiated mass torts against infant formula companies such as Enfamil and Abbott Nutrition. These law firms seek to obtain compensation on behalf of clients with babies who have experienced the ill effects of necrotizing enterocolitis.

This guide will provide the latest updates on necrotizing enterocolitis mass tort cases and more information about this deadly illness associated with cow’s milk-based formula.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a gastrointestinal problem that occurs most often in premature babies. NEC is the most common and severe intestinal disease premature babies face.

Necrotizing enterocolitis inflames the intestinal tissue, causing it to die. NEC can also cause a hole or perforation in the infant’s intestine, which allows bacteria to leak into the bloodstream or abdomen.

Additionally, when sections of the injured intestine die, they may need to be removed, creating challenges to the infant’s digestive system.

Signs and Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

NEC typically occurs in infants between two and six weeks old. Approximately nine out of ten infants who develop NEC are premature. This condition most commonly affects babies who:

  • Are born before the 37th week of pregnancy
  • Weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth
  • Are fed through enteral nutrition

NEC affects approximately one in 1,000 premature babies. Babies weighing less than two pounds are at the most significant risk of experiencing this illness. NEC rarely affects full-term babies.

NEC can produce the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in blood pressure, body temperature, breathing patterns, and heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Green or yellow vomit

Causes of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

NEC can have several causes. Researchers are not exactly sure why some infants develop this condition. However, it seems to affect infants with weaker immune systems more commonly than healthier infants.

While NEC cannot pass from one baby to another, viruses or bacteria that cause NEC can pass from infant to infant. Several cases have occurred where a few infants in the same nursery have developed NEC.

Additionally, infants have weaker digestive systems than older individuals. As a result, they tend to have a more challenging time fighting intestinal infections. Preterm infants sometimes have too little oxygen or blood flow to the intestines as well, leading to the development of this condition.

Researchers have also linked cow’s milk-based formulas to the development of NEC.

Effects of NEC

NEC has a fatality rate in preterm infants between 10% and 50%. Many infants do not have the immune support necessary to fight off this bacterial infection. However, infants who recover from this infection often develop permanent, debilitating injuries, including:

  • Brain injuries
  • Blindness
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bowel removal

Cow’s Milk Infant Formulas and Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Researchers have discovered a connection between cow’s milk-based infant formulas and necrotizing enterocolitis.

This link may exist for a few reasons. First, cow’s milk may be more challenging for infants to digest than human milk. Because preterm infants tend to have weaker digestive systems than older babies, cow’s milk may cause their intestinal tissues to become inflamed or injured, leading the bacteria in their intestines to seep into the abdomen.

In contrast, human milk contains substances that help infants fight infection. Therefore, when infants receive a diet of only cow’s milk-based formula and develop NEC or other infections, they will not have these natural defenses, making it harder to fight the infection.

The proteins in cow’s milk may also contribute to the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis. No such link has been discovered between NEC and human milk.

Which Formulas Use Cow’s Milk?

Approximately 80% of infant formulas on the market in the U.S. use cow’s milk as a base. A few of the most popular brands of cow’s milk-based formula include:

  • Baby’s Only
  • Bobbie
  • Earth’s Best
  • Enfamil
  • Gerber
  • Go & Grow
  • Happy Baby
  • Kendamil
  • Lebenswert
  • Parent’s Choice
  • Similac
  • Up&Up

When premature babies consume these formulas, they risk developing necrotizing enterocolitis.

Grounds for NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits

Cow’s milk-based baby formulas can cause NEC to develop even when suppliers use the safest manufacturing protocols. As a result, an infant formula does not need to have an active recall to produce this condition.

Unlike many baby formula lawsuits, NEC mass tort suits do not claim that the cow’s milk-based products causing NEC were contaminated. Instead, these lawsuits blame infant formula companies for failing to adequately warn consumers about the potential risks of infants consuming cow’s milk formulas.

These lawsuits often claim that manufacturing companies like Enfamil and Abbot’s Nutrition:

  • Included product warnings that were too broad or vague to warn against NEC adequately
  • Failed to mention the increased risk of NEC and death upon consumption
  • Made no changes to their formulas, instructions, packaging, or warning labels despite knowing of NEC risks
  • Marketed their cow’s milk formulas as safe and nutritionally equivalent to breast milk despite NEC risks
  • Used deceptive tactics to convince consumers that their cow’s milk-based formulas are similar to breast milk

These claims give rise to product liability lawsuits.

Updates Regarding Necrotizing Enterocolitis Litigation

April 2022 Update:

Law firms across the country have begun pursuing legal action against Enfamil, Similac, and other baby formula brands that have been linked to necrotizing enterocolitis. As of April 2022, over 40 NEC lawsuits have been filed within the past year. At least twelve of these lawsuits were filed in March 2022.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis Mass Torts: How You Can Claim Compensation

If your infant experienced NEC after consuming cow’s milk-based formula, you might be able to receive compensation from the formula manufacturer through a mass tort. At Mass Tort Resource, we can help you determine the best steps to seek compensation for medical treatments and pain and suffering resulting from this condition. If you have received clients that are looking to take part in this mass tort, Mass Tort Resource educates attorneys to help them navigate mass tort cases.

Contact us today at 844-636-7459 or fill out a form on our site to request your free consultation.