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Baby Formula NEC FAQ

Illinois Product Liability Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Formula and Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Baby formula is used on a daily basis by families throughout the United States. It can provide essential nutrition for children either as an alternative to or a supplement for breastfeeding. While baby formula is generally safe to use and can provide benefits for many children, parents may not be aware of the potential risks of using formula to provide nutrition for children who are born prematurely. Certain types of formula have been linked to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a dangerous illness that may threaten the life of newborn infants. Parents of children who have experienced NEC may be unsure about their options and how they can address the harm suffered by their families. Our firm can advise these parents of the steps they can take to protect their rights, and we can answer questions that families may have about their ability to take legal action against the manufacturers of harmful products.


How Common Is NEC?

Necrotizing enterocolitis is rare, and while it only affects around one out of every 10,000 children who are born after a pregnancy reaches full-term, it affects around one in 1,000 babies who are born prematurely. Studies have found that children with very low birth weight (between 1,000 and 1,500 grams, or 2.2. to 3.3 pounds) are much more likely to experience NEC, with around five to 12 percent of these children being affected. In around 20 to 40 percent of cases, surgery is required to treat NEC, and in between 25 and 50 percent of cases, this condition is fatal.


What Types of Baby Formula Are Associated With NEC?

While scientists have not identified the exact causes of necrotizing enterocolitis, one issue that has repeatedly been linked to NEC is the use of cow-milk-based baby formula for premature infants. Human milk is much easier for infants to digest, and it also helps children's bodies fight infections while promoting the growth and development of cells in the intestines. Cow milk, on the other hand, is more difficult to digest, and it may lead to inflammation of the intestines, which may develop into NEC. To prevent this issue, experts have recommended that premature babies be given milk from their mother, other breast milk donors, or formula based on human milk rather than cow's milk.

Multiple studies have linked baby formula based on non-human milk to NEC. These studies have shown that premature infants fed formula based on cow's milk were around six to ten times more likely to develop NEC than infants who were provided with breast milk. The most popular and commonly used brands of baby formula, Enfamil and Similac, are based on cow's milk. These formulas are often used at hospitals, despite the known risks to premature infants.


Are Baby Formula Manufacturers Aware of the Risks of NEC?

Studies showing that baby formula based on cow's milk may be dangerous for premature infants date back several decades. While the manufacturers of Similac, Enfamil, and other cow-milk-based formulas have been aware of these studies, they have not taken any steps to prevent the use of these products for children who may be at risk of NEC. No warnings have been included on the packaging or in the instructions of these products. In fact, certain products, such as Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare and Similac Special Care, have been marketed as safe to be used by children who were born prematurely or with low birth weight.


Contact Our Chicago Baby Formula Injury Lawyer

Parents of children who have experienced NEC that may have been caused by baby formula will want to determine their options for taking legal action against the manufacturers of these products. Our firm can assist with these cases, and we can help determine the best course of action that will allow a family to receive compensation for the harm they have suffered. Contact our office at 866-553-9812 to schedule your free consultation.

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