Parents purchasing baby formula for their infants want it to be safe. But several lawsuits have already been filed against baby formula brands like Enfamil and Similac. It’s because the products lead to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) , a severe gastrointestinal infection.
Previously, these formulas were considered secure for low birth weight and premature babies. However, today it has been discovered that it leads to ailments that can result in lifelong complications and sometimes death.
What is NEC and its Implications?
According to the NEC Society, Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an extreme gastrointestinal condition affecting medically fragile and premature infants. It leads to intestinal inflammation causing fatal complications and doesn’t allow babies to completely recover.
Unfortunately, NEC results in permanent neurological conditions and impairments like cerebral palsy. The infections start at the intestinal wall of the infant and move to other organs. About 45% of NEC survivors are vulnerable to psychomotor, cognitive, hearing, and visual impairments when they are 20 months old.
Almost 20% of neonates suffering from NEC developed cerebral palsy, 36% developed cognitive, 35% psychomotor, 3% hearing, and 3% visual impairment. The ones who have survived are susceptible to other neurological problems with age.
When a child reaches school age, there might be multiple cognitive deficits, such as poorer attention, lower IQs, and visual perception. In 2020, close to 10.1% of premature kids were born in the United States.
Taking Legal Action Against Baby Formula Manufacturers
Parents whose premature babies got fed with baby formulas have filed Enfamil lawsuits against Mead Johnson and Similac lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories. Their principal complaint for any toxic baby formula NEC lawsuit is that these brands failed to warn medical providers and parents about the dangers linked with baby formulas.
In October 2022, a profound movement took place for developing a schedule and process for making the bellwether test cases in formula NEC class action lawsuits. The defendants and the plaintiffs shared 66 pending cases with the judge randomly selected by the court. Furthermore, a team of 12 bellwether discovery cases got chosen for the pretrial discovery phase.
From here four cases got selected for the initial bellwether test trial. It was the defendant and plaintiffs who selected the four cases. Even the court randomly selected another four cases. The process was completed in November 2022.
TorHoerman Law, a personal injury law firm, suggests that if a child receives baby formula in the NICU of a hospital and suffers from NEC, parents can file a lawsuit for the same. The lawyers of the firm offer a free consultation to let parents know whether they qualify for the claim. They also let parents know about the deadline of the claim, which is usually a two-year statute of limitations.
The Symptoms of NEC
Children with NEC will manifest different symptoms. Usually, it shows within the first two weeks of their birth and can include:
- Belly swelling or bloating
- A greenish-color fluid in the stomach
- Food not moving through intestines
- Blood in the bowel
A few infection signs comprise:
- Reduced heart rate
- Sudden starting and stopping of the breathing
- Extreme lethargy
Complications of NEC
A child affected with NEC will be vulnerable to other health issues, like:
● Abdominal infection
A few infants after suffering from NEC develop a hole in their intestinal wall. It makes bacteria get inside their abdominal cavity. The condition is known as peritonitis which further increases the chance of causing sepsis, a fatal blood infection.
● Short bowel syndrome
As NEC destroys a portion of the small intestine, kids can have short bowel syndrome. The body can’t absorb nutrients and fluids easily resulting in malabsorption. Even kids with this syndrome will require permanent care for receiving the correct nutrition for their growth. There are kids with this condition who require tube feeding.
● · Developmental delays and growth failure
The crucial permanent complications include poor neurodevelopmental outcomes, developmental delays, and growth failure. It is seen more in kids who undergo surgery. Such kids need frequent follow-ups for monitoring their development and growth.
● Intestinal stricture
Babies with this condition have narrow intestines. It happens within a few months after NEC recovery. The narrow intestine makes it challenging for the food to move through. A few kids will require surgery for opening up the intestine.
Preventing NEC can prove to be challenging. However, medical experts say babies who feed on breast milk rather than formula, might steer clear of it. Mothers should start feeding their babies once they are stable. Gradually, increasing the pace and quantity of food is also helpful.
Furthermore, in the case of preterm birth, corticosteroid injections are used. It enhances the fetus’s development and reduces the chances of intestinal and lung issues.