Published on:

NEC Infant Formula Lawsuits

Lawsuits are being filed across the U.S. claiming that cow-milk based baby formula has caused many premature infants to develop a serious gastrointestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The basis for these lawsuits is that research has long shown that cow milk is associated with NEC in premature infants, and the manufacturers of formulas such as Similac and Enfamil should have warned doctors and parents of the risks. Our firm is currently seeking NEC formula lawsuits.  Plaintiffs who bring successful baby formula NEC lawsuit could receive significant financial compensation. 

Formula Can Cause Increased Risk of NEC in Premature Infants 

Infant formula products such as Similac or Enfamil are made from cow milk and given to newborn babies as a substitute for human breast milk.  A growing body of scientific evidence has proven cow milk formulas significantly increase the risk of a life-threatening bowel infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) when given to premature infants. 

NEC is a gastrointestinal bacterial infection that triggers swift tissue decay in the inner walls of an infant’s intestines. This condition typically affects premature babies (born at 37 weeks or earlier) and can manifest in either the small or large intestine. The infection starts within the lining of the inner intestinal wall and gradually extends throughout the intestine’s entire thickness. 

The severity of NEC cases can vary widely. In some infants, NEC may cause mild discomfort due to bowel inflammation. However, in more severe instances, NEC can pose a significant threat and potentially be fatal for the baby. When NEC is severe and not promptly and effectively treated, it can lead to the formation of a hole (perforation) in the intestinal wall, resulting from tissue decay and deterioration. 

The occurrence of an intestinal perforation with NEC sets the stage for a perilous situation, making the condition potentially life-threatening. The breach in the intestinal wall allows harmful bacteria to escape the digestive system and infiltrate the abdominal cavity. This situation can rapidly lead to a systemic infection and eventually progress to sepsis, a severe bloodstream infection with life-threatening consequences. 

The earliest medical evidence establishing a causal link be cow-milk formulas like Enfamil and higher rates of NEC dates back to the early 1990s. More recent scientific studies have definitively proven that when Enfamil (or other cow-milk formulas) are fed to premature infants it significantly increases their risk of developing NEC compared to preemies that are given human breast milk. If a premature infant is fed exclusively with Enfamil or another cow-milk formula, studies have shown that they are ten times more likely to develop NEC than babies fed with breast milk. The evidence linking cow-milk formula to NEC in preemies is so strong that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Surgeon General, and many health organizations have strongly advocated against feeding Enfamil to premature infants. 

Manufacturers Failed to Warn About the Risk of NEC 

The manufacturers of infant formula products such as Enfamil (Mead Johnson) and Similac (Abbott Laboratories) have long been aware of the overwhelming scientific evidence and clinical studies showing that bovine formula puts premature babies at higher risk for NEC. Despite having knowledge of this evidence, the formula companies have repeatedly declined to include a warning label on their packaging cautioning consumers and doctors about the risk of NEC. 

Product manufacturers have a legal duty to warn consumers about known hazards associated with their products. The formula manufacturers clearly had an obligation to warn that formula put premature infants at high risk for NEC, but they have ignored that obligation in order to maintain the marketability of their product. This negligentfailure to warn about the risk of NEC for premature infants is the basis for the NEC infant formula lawsuits.  

NEC Infant Formula Class Action Lawsuit 

Over the last few years, a growing number of NEC infant formula lawsuits have been filed against formula manufacturers Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories. The lawsuits are based primarily on the claim that these companies failed to warn about the increased risk of NEC for premature infants. The lawsuits assert product liability claims for negligent failure to warn, strict product liability, and breach of warranty.   

In 2021, the NEC formula lawsuits in federal courts were consolidated into a class action MDL in the Eastern District of Louisiana. There are now over 100 individual cases in the NEC formula MDL and bellwether test trials are on the horizon.  

How Much Will NEC Formula Lawsuits Be Worth in Settlement? 

At this stage no NEC formula cases have gone to trial, making it very difficult to predict what these lawsuits will be worth in a verdict or settlement. We can offer an educated guess at their potential settlement value by making a comparative analysis of settlements and verdicts in recent medical malpractice lawsuits in which NEC in a premature infant was the primary injury.  

We gathered data from an group of recent medical malpractice lawsuits across the country where NEC in premature infants was the primary injury. On average, the compensation awarded in these NEC cases totaled approximately $3.5 million. The median payout for NEC in these cases stood at $1.3 million. It’s important to note that these compensation figures are likely lower than potential payouts anticipated in NEC infant formula lawsuits. The defendants in these NEC malpractice cases were compassionate healthcare professionals who likely made sincere errors. Juries tend to show more empathy towards these individuals compared to larger corporations such as Mead Johnson or Abbott Laboratories. 

Contact Our NEC Formula Lawyers Today 

Our product liability lawyers are actively seeking NEC formula lawsuits from parents of premature infants who were fed with cow milk-based formula and subsequently developed NEC. Contact us online or call us at 888-322-3010.