Even though premature babies need extra nutrients due to their small size, many of them cannot breastfeed. Many families rely on formula to provide these fragile babies with the nutrients they need. Unfortunately, research indicates that baby formula made using cow’s milk significantly increases premature infants’ chances of developing a severe, potentially fatal health condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Worse still, evidence suggests the makers of cow milk-based formula knew about this increased risk and failed to warn people about it.

If your premature baby developed NEC after drinking formula made with cow’s milk, you may be entitled to compensation. The Menges Law Firm is leading the fight to help families recover money for the harm their children have suffered from drinking formula containing cow’s milk. Our firm represents clients throughout the U.S., and we have over 50 years of combined legal experience. Our attorneys can handle all the legal work in an NEC baby formula lawsuit and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation. Call us today at (618) 424-4450 or complete our contact form for a free consultation with an NEC baby formula attorney.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe condition that affects the intestines of newborns, primarily premature babies. The condition causes inflammation in the intestine, leading to severe health problems and possible tissue death. NEC can cause a hole to form in the intestine, allowing bacteria to escape into the abdomen or bloodstream.
NEC typically appears two to six weeks post-birth. While some infants may experience only mild effects, for others, NEC can be a life-threatening challenge.

NEC is much more common in premature infants, affecting about one in 1,000 babies born early. The risk escalates for babies weighing less than two pounds at birth. On the other hand, full-term babies rarely encounter NEC, with the condition occurring in about one in 10,000 of these cases.
The exact cause of NEC remains unknown, but scientists agree that premature babies are at higher risk due to their underdeveloped immune and digestive systems, which struggle to combat infections. Additionally, diminished blood flow to the intestines in premature babies can damage intestinal tissue, further complicating their ability to fend off bacteria.

The symptoms of NEC can vary, ranging from abdominal pain and swelling to more severe signs like changes in vital signs, bloody stools, and lethargy. Infants may also show a reluctance to eat, leading to a failure to gain weight. Given its prevalence in neonatal intensive care units, healthcare providers are vigilant for signs of NEC in at-risk infants, aiming to catch and treat it as early as possible.

Long-Term Complications of NEC

One reason NEC is so dangerous and harmful is that even when infants survive the illness, it can cause severe long-term health problems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the potential long-term complications of NEC include:

  • Intestinal Stricture: Up to one-third of babies may develop intestinal strictures a few months after recovering from NEC. This narrowing of the intestines can obstruct food passage, sometimes requiring surgery to rectify.
  • Short Bowel Syndrome: Damage or destruction of part of the small intestine by NEC can cause short bowel syndrome, making it difficult for the body to absorb fluids and nutrients. Affected children may need lifelong nutritional support, including tube feedings.
  • Growth Failure and Developmental Delays: Infants who needed surgery for NEC are at a heightened risk of experiencing growth failure, poor neurodevelopmental outcomes, and developmental delays, necessitating close and continuous monitoring of their growth and development.

The Connection Between Cow’s Milk Baby Formula and NEC

While premature babies already have a higher risk of developing NEC, research indicates that drinking formula made using cow’s milk can further increase that risk. Research into NEC is ongoing, but a Lancet study from as far back as 1990 suggested that certain ingredients in cow’s milk make premature infants more susceptible to NEC. Additional studies performed in decades since have supported these findings.

The NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

Given that decades of research highlights the dangers of feeding premature babies cow’s milk formula, you’d think the companies that make baby formula would understand these risks and warn consumers. Unfortunately, these companies appear to have disregarded these risks and chased greater profits instead. The negligence of companies that made cow’s milk formula, such as Similac and Enfamil, is at the heart of the ongoing NEC baby formula litigation.

The central allegation in the NEC baby formula lawsuits is that the manufacturers of Enfamil, Similac, and other brands of cow’s milk formula knew these products increased the risk of NEC in premature babies and failed to warn consumers. The ongoing lawsuits focus on the actions of Abbott Laboratories, which makes Similac, and Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, which makes Enfamil. If Abbott and Mead Johnson knew about these risks and didn’t adequately warn consumers, they could be liable for the harm they caused under product liability laws.

There are now hundreds of NEC baby formula lawsuits pending across the country, and plaintiffs have already won significant victories. In March 2024, an Illinois jury awarded a family $60 million after finding Mead Johnson liable for not sufficiently warning families about the potential risks of NEC in premature infants. With this verdict as a precedent, many other families are now taking action to hold Abbott, Mead Johnson, and other companies accountable for their negligence.

How to Know If You Have Cause for an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

There are three primary conditions your child must meet to qualify for an NEC baby formula lawsuit. First, your child must have been born prematurely, as the vast majority of NEC cases involve premature babies. (While full-term babies can develop NEC, it’s much more rare.)

Second, your child must have had formula containing cow’s milk. While the specific brand doesn’t strictly matter, most of the lawsuits so far have focused on the Enfamil and Similac brands. If you fed your child formula from Similac or Enfamil, you might have a stronger case.

Finally, your child must have developed NEC after drinking formula containing cow’s milk. If you have questions about whether you qualify for a lawsuit, our lawyers can review your case and explain your legal options.

Potential Compensation in an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit

If you choose the Menges Law Firm to represent you in an NEC baby formula lawsuit, our Illinois personal injury lawyers will help you pursue maximum compensation for your losses. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you could recover compensation for:

  • Your child’s past medical expenses
  • The cost of any future treatment your child needs
  • Your lost income due to taking time off work or taking your child to medical treatments
  • Your child’s reduced future earnings and diminished quality of life
  • The loss of your child, if they died due to complications from NEC

How Our NEC Baby Formula Law Firm Can Help You

At Menges Law Firm, we understand the pain and frustration you feel if your baby has suffered from NEC due to unsafe baby formula. We’re here to help you through this challenging journey by offering compassionate legal support and aggressive representation. We’ll handle all the legal heavy lifting, allowing you to focus on your family’s well-being. From gathering evidence and filing legal paperwork to fighting for the compensation you deserve, we’ll stand by your side every step of the way.

Menges Law Firm is ready to hear your story and start working on your case right away. Call us today or reach out online for a free case evaluation.