Enfamil is an infant formula derived from cow’s milk. Research dating back three decades links cow’s milk-derived infant formula to a devastating intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants. Yet, Mead Johnson, makers of Enfamil infant formula, never warned parents of this risk. As a result, vulnerable infants suffered harm.
By filing an Enfamil lawsuit, parents of preemies who were fed Enfamil infant formula and later developed NEC seek to hold Mead Johnson accountable for the harm their children suffered. The NEC baby formula lawsuits also name Abbott Laboratories, makers of Similac infant formula.
What Baby Formulas are Included in the Enfamil Lawsuit?
Mead Johnson makes the following Enfamil infant formulas derived from cow’s milk:
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
- Enfacare Powder
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid High Protein
- Enfamil Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein
- Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
- Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 24 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 24 Cal/fl oz HP
- Enfamil Premature 30 Cal
- Enfamil 24 and DHA & ARA Supplement
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
NEC is a serious bacterial infection of the intestines that can inflame, damage, and perforate the intestines, allowing bacteria and other fluids to leak into the bloodstream.
NEC mostly affects babies, especially premature babies (those born at less than 37 weeks gestation) and low birthweight babies (those weighing less than 5.5 pounds). Very low birthweight babies born less than 2 pounds are at greater risk. About 1 in 10,000 full-term babies develop NEC compared to 1 in 1,000 premature babies. NEC is the most common gastrointestinal emergency in neonatal intensive care units.
It is a frightening diagnosis for any parent to hear, especially parents of vulnerable preemies. It can rob parents of precious bonding time in the days and weeks after birth. Treatment involves stopping all feedings and feeding the baby through an intravenous catheter. A nasogastric tube is often used to suction fluids from the stomach, and antibiotics are administered to treat the infection. Medical professionals use X-rays to monitor the disease progression. Oxygen or mechanical breathing is administered as needed. Isolation procedures are also used to prevent the spread of infection.
In most cases, these medical interventions can resolve symptoms, and these babies can make a full recovery. However, babies with severe NEC may require blood transfusions or surgery to remove portions of the intestines damaged by the disease. The most severe cases involving perforation, peritonitis, and sepsis are almost always fatal. Often, infants who survive face long-term complications.
How Does Enfamil Cause NEC in Premature Babies?
Premature babies may be more prone to infections like NEC because their immune systems aren’t fully developed and their intestines and other internal organs aren’t fully formed. But over 30 years ago, researchers began noticing that premature babies fed baby formulas — particularly those derived from cow (or bovine) milk — were more likely to develop NEC than preemies fed human breastmilk.
In 2011, a Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions study backed up those claims, finding that extremely premature babies (weighing less than 3.3 pounds) who were fed human donor milk were far less likely to get NEC than those fed formula derived from cow’s milk, leading the lead author to conclude that the results, “signal the need for a change in feeding practices across neonatal care units.”
That year, as part of a public health effort to promote The Importance of Breastfeeding, the U.S. Surgeon General cautioned that infant formula was associated with higher rates of NEC in premature babies.
In 2017, a group of Canadian researchers conducted a metanalysis of six studies involving 869 premature infants and suggested that preemies fed formula derived from cow’s milk had a 362% increased risk of NEC compared to those fed human breastmilk.
In May 2020, a study published in Breastfeeding Medicine reported that very low birthweight premature babies fed cow’s milk-derived formulas had a 4.2-fold increased risk of developing NEC compared to those fed breastmilk and a 5.1-fold increased risk of NEC surgery or death.
Despite the decades of research published in peer-reviewed journals, Mead Johnson still refuses to warn parents of the risk of NEC on cans of its milk-based infant formulas and still markets the formula for premature babies.
Do I Qualify for an Enfamil Baby Formula Lawsuit?
You may qualify to file an Enfamil lawsuit if your baby was:
- Born premature (less than 37 weeks gestation)
- Diagnosed with NEC
- Fed Enfamil or Similac formula prior to NEC diagnosis
Talk to a Lawyer About Your NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit
No parent should have to watch their child suffer from a devastating disease that infant formula manufacturers could have prevented had they warned parents of the risks to their vulnerable premature infants.
If your child was diagnosed with NEC as a preemie after being fed Enfamil or Similac baby formula, you may qualify to recover compensation for your medical expenses and other damages through an NEC baby formula lawsuit. Contact the mass tort and product liability lawyers at Lawsuit Legal News at 866-467-0943 or through this online form for a free consultation.