For decades, babies who are born prematurely have been fed infant formulas, recommended by pediatricians and doctors to boost their nutrition since the majority of them are born too weak to breastfeed. To meet this demand, several manufacturers, like Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, have created infant formulas specifically for premature babies.

However, many of these infant formulas have been under scrutiny for using cow’s milk to make their products despite studies that show that cow-based infant formulas can cause necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants. Necrotizing enterocolitis is a risky and painful gastrointestinal problem that mostly affects premature infants and can be deadly if not caught early.

This blog will help you understand how to get the right lawyer for a Similac lawsuit if you are a parent whose child has developed NEC as a result of being fed Similac infant formula.

Link Between Similac and NEC in Premature Infants

Similac is a trademark for a wide range of Abbott baby formula products that are sold to cater for the nourishment of preterm, full-term, and dietary-restricted infants. Most of these items are accessible to buy in stores, while others can only be found in hospitals.

Premature babies often need special dietary plans. As it is widely known, the best feeding options for preemies are known to be mothers’ milk, milk from donors, or non-milk cow-based infant supplemental formulas. Human milk for premature infants is much easier to digest than cow's milk. Unlike cow's milk, human breast milk also has chemicals that aid to combat any kind of infection and help in the maturation of intestinal cells.

However, in many cases, pediatricians or doctors may recommend supplementing infant formula to breast milk to boost an infant’s nutrition. Similac is a baby formula that is made from cow’s milk and is marketed as a substitute for human breast milk.

Unfortunately, preemies who are given cow's milk-based formulas are more prone to develop NEC than infants who are given pure human breast milk, according to research. For every ten percent increase in infant formula, the likelihood of getting sepsis in premature infants increased by about 18 percent.

Multiple medical institutions discovered in 2011 that "extremely premature newborns given human breast milk are much less prone to developing the severe intestinal illness necrotizing enterocolitis as compared to babies given a common cow-based infant formula produced." Countless research studies have also verified similar findings throughout the last decade.

Sadly, most parents are unaware of the dangers of NEC in preterm babies that some of these cow's milk-based formulas pose.

Is Similac Approved by the FDA?

Unfortunately, the US Food and Drug Administration does not have to certify baby formulas before they're sold. However, before a new baby formula can be commercialized in the country, it should satisfy federal nutritional requirements.

List of Bovine-Based Infant Formula

Approximately 80% of infant formulas are made using cow's milk, and practically every big brand (as well as store-brand equivalent) provides a bovine-based formula, such as:

  • Similac
  • Bobbie
  • Similac Special Care
  • Enfamil
  • NeoSure
  • Go & Grow
  • Human Milk-Based Fortifier
  • Earth’s Best
  • Parent’s Choice
  • Happy Baby
  • Holle
  • Loulouka
  • Gerber
  • Lebenswert
  • Kendamil
  • Baby’s Only

What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

NEC is a dangerous bacterial illness that affects premature newborns' gastrointestinal systems, causing fast deterioration and death of an infant's intestinal tissues. NEC can affect both the small and large intestine, and the infection begins in the innermost layer of the intestines before spreading across the entire surface of the intestines.

The severity of NEC cases varies. NEC could be relatively mild in certain situations, causing just minor discomfort. A small fraction of NEC cases are acute, and the infant's life could be threatened. NEC causes significant intestinal irritation as well as pain. Severe cases of NEC might result in perforations or holes in the intestinal lining as the tissue dies if it is not treated quickly.

The actual cause of NEC is unknown to medical professionals. However, premature newborns are known to have reduced immune defenses. The immune systems help bodies in fighting against infections. Premature infants are also known to have weaker digestive systems. When they get intestinal illnesses, their digestive and immune systems struggle to fight against the infections.

Premature infants also have a more difficult time getting oxygen-carrying blood to their intestines. Intestinal tissue could be damaged by reduced blood flow. The damage enables bacteria to escape the intestinal tissues and invade the baby's abdominal cavity or circulation.

Unfortunately, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening illness. As per the NEC Society, the fatality rate for infants who suffer from NEC is approximated to be above 40%, placing it as the highest reason for the entire infant mortality rate in the United States.

As stated by the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, around half of all babies who develop NEC will experience long-term medical issues. The following are a few of these medical complications:

  • Perforation of the bowel or the intestine
  • Injuries to the brain (such as cerebral palsy or even bleeding in the brain)
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), is a condition that emerges when the infant's brain is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period
  • Scarring of the intestine
  • Stricture of the intestines (this happens when the tissues in the intestines heal but the scarring constricts the intestines and leads to intestinal obstructions)
  • Sepsis
  • Short bowel syndrome (SBS) or short gut syndrome (difficulty in the digestion or absorption of nutrients can arise after extreme or important sections of the ileum have been eliminated)

NEC Signs and Symptoms

Due to the high death rate of infants with NEC, it's critical to be aware of the symptoms and to take immediate action when you notice them. The following are the most common symptoms of NEC:

  • Diarrhea
  • A bloated, red, or sore stomach
  • Green vomit
  • Abdominal distention
  • Temperature Instability
  • Intolerance to Feeding
  • Apnea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Slow heart rate
  • Bloody stool

NEC Treatment

For pediatric infants with necrotizing enterocolitis, medication or surgical therapy options are available. Medical treatment is typically administered when the intestines are not ruptured and just a small section of the intestines is damaged. The majority of infants with necrotizing enterocolitis don't require surgery to relieve their symptoms. Medical treatment consists of the following:

  • Discontinuing all routine feedings. An intravenous catheter is used to administer nutrients to the infant
  • A nasogastric tube is inserted via the nose and into the infant's stomach
  • The tube removes air as well as liquid from the infant's stomach and intestines, reducing swelling and pain
  • The infant is placed under antibiotic treatment
  • Checking the infant's stools for any signs of blood
  • Performing blood tests regularly. These can identify early symptoms of illness as well as chemical changes in the body
  • If belly swelling makes breathing difficult, oxygen or manually assisted breathing is used
  • Platelet, as well as red blood cell transfusions, may be required in severe situations

When an infant does not react to medical therapy or if the intestines are perforated, surgery will be required. A pediatric surgeon will analyze the condition of the gut and remove only the affected sections, preserving parts of the intestines to allow the less destroyed areas to restore function. A drain may be inserted in the belly to extract the contaminated liquid in certain cases.

Babies who require surgery face a more difficult journey to recovery, although most of them survive. The diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis could be terrifying for parents. Please remember that with treatment, your child will most likely be back on a normal feeding schedule in no time.

How Similar is Human Breast Milk and Infant Formula?

Formula and human breast milk are comparable in that they both give energy, nutritious foods, water, and nutrition, so the child will grow regardless of the milk she or he is fed. Despite advancements in the formulation and manufacturing of infant milk powder, it still falls short of the nutritional advantages of human milk.

Over centuries, human breast milk has developed into the ideal health sustenance for newborn children. It is far more sophisticated than the milk of many other mammals because it is responsible for the development of our much more developed brains, as well as our distinct immune and digestive systems.

Cow's milk, on the other hand, fulfills the particular requirements of calves and is used to make the most formulas. Because it is unsafe for newborn infants to ingest, it must be thoroughly treated before being converted into baby formula.

Abbott Laboratories is Accused of Deceptive Marketing

A prospective class-action suit has been filed against Abbott Laboratories claiming that Similac Go & Grow toddler formulas are improperly designed to meet the dietary requirements of infants while increasing revenue for the firm.

Certain claims allege that Abbott deceptively portrays its "transition formulas" as being ideal for babies and a healthy next stage in their growth. According to the claims, Abbott is adjusting to a change in how parents feed their kids. The ensuing reduction in baby formula sales prompted Abbott to rename their formulas, introducing a "transition formula" line that included the Similac Go & Grow toddler formula. "Follow-on formulas," "toddler milk," "weaning formulas," as well as "growing-up milk" are all terms used to describe formulas.

Furthermore, the claimants assert that marketing for these products has misled consumers into believing that Similac Go & Grow is required by growing kids. Smith highlighted studies from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, which focused on public sentiment on infant formula options.

What are the Similac Lawsuits Alleging?

NEC litigation is a relatively new concept.  NEC lawsuits have been filed against Similac producer Abbott Laboratories for purportedly having caused NEC in infants. The following are examples of common causes of action in these lawsuits:

  • Product liability for product flaws
  • Negligence
  • Negligent misrepresentation
  • Liability for failing to warn
  • Warranty infringement
  • Deliberate misrepresentation
  • Suits for wrongful death, in cases where the babies passed away

Most of these claims argue that Abbott was aware of the possibility of the infants developing NEC but did not notify the consumers about it.

With the assistance of an expert attorney, you can pursue legal action against the producers of Similac if your infant was given Similac baby formula while at the hospital or the NICU, or even if they suffered from necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed with Similac.

Do You Have a Lawsuit?

You could be able to pursue NEC infant formula case if your baby was:

  • Prematurely born
  • Given an infant formula made from cow's milk
  • Was diagnosed with Necrotizing enterocolitis

If you qualify, your infant formula attorneys can assist you with the legal process. While each case is different, the following steps are usually taken by your attorney and defense counsel:

  • Obtaining additional information to determine whether or whether or not a lawsuit is possible
  • Putting together the proof and testimony you'll need to make your claim
  • File the NEC baby formula case for you
  • Seek compensation as a verdict or a settlement for baby formula

Damage or settlement awards may include financial assistance for the following:

  • Hospital expenses for the injured infants’ hospitalization, treatment, recuperation, and possibly for lifetime care
  • Lost potential earnings as well as opportunities for the baby as they reach adulthood, and also lost enjoyment or the desired standard of life when they are forced to live permanently with a serious health condition
  • Your child's and family's suffering and pain during this awful period
  • Punitive damages go beyond compensating the afflicted party to punishing the lawbreakers and encouraging improved behavior by placing a financial burden on them
  • Costs of wrongful death in instances where the infant succumbs to necrotizing enterocolitis

Find a Similac Lawsuit Attorney Near Me

If your child has died or sustained injuries from developing NEC after being fed Similac infant Formula, you do not have to suffer in silence and carry the financial and emotional burden alone. Instead, you can join many others in a class-action lawsuit against Similac's manufacturer Abbott Laboratories to receive your compensation. At Consumer Alert Now, we will give you the details of the risks associated with this product and how you can find and join a class-action lawsuit near you. Call us today at 800-511-0747. We offer our services nationwide to clients that have been affected by harmful drugs, products, or services.