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Similac Lawsuit for NEC Compensation

Infant formula products are designed to supply babies with enough nutrition to grow and develop normally after being born too early. Unfortunately, some formula products can cause necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a severe and potentially fatal disease in premature infants.

Science shows that feeding premature babies cow milk-based formula increases the risk of developing NEC. Infant formula manufacturers like Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories are well aware yet fail to warn consumers about the link between cow milk-based formulas and NEC.


Did an infant formula harm your baby? If so, call the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC today at (888) 424-5757 or fill out an online contact form to get started on your Similac lawsuit. Our product liability attorneys are well-equipped to help you fight for the financial compensation that your family deserves from this unnecessary hardship.

The failure to meet this obligation to consumers is the basis of most Similac baby formula lawsuits. If your premature baby developed NEC after being fed Similac human milk fortifier or infant formula, you might be able to file a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal problem that commonly affects premature infants. Babies diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis suffer damage to their intestinal tissue, which leads to necrosis (tissue death).

A hole may form in the infant’s intestine, serving as an entryway for bacteria from the bowel. When this occurs, several complications may arise, such as:

  • Abdominal infection: Some premature babies may develop holes (perforations) in their intestinal walls. When bacteria enter this area, an infection called peritonitis can occur. This type of infection increases the risk of sepsis, a deadly blood infection.
  • Short bowel syndrome: Short bowel syndrome may result if necrotizing enterocolitis damages a portion of the small intestine. This illness makes it difficult for the body to absorb fluids and nutrients, which requires the child to get lifelong care to receive the right amount of nutrition.
  • Intestinal stricture: A stricture causes the intestines to narrow, making it harder for food to pass through. Some babies need surgery for their intestines to return to normal.
  • Growth failure and developmental setbacks: NEC can result in life-long complications, such as growth failure and developmental delays. These babies usually require close monitoring to ensure that they grow normally.

Out of the 480,000 premature infants born in the United States, around 9,000 develop NEC every year. This disease is the 10th leading cause of death in preterm babies and infants under one year.

Symptoms of NEC

NEC typically develops two to six weeks after birth. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Changes in heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stool
  • Green or yellow vomit
  • Refusing to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of weight gain
  • Apnea(abnormal or cessation of breathing temporarily)
  • Halted breathing
  • Ileus (a lack of normal intestinal muscle contractions)
  • Constipation
  • Shock (in advanced cases)

Most Common Type of NEC in Cow Milk Infant Formula Cases

There are four different types of NEC: classic, transfusion-related, atypical, and term infant. Most cases of NEC linked to cow milk formulas involve classic NEC, which commonly affects preterm infants born before 28 weeks.

Classic NEC develops three to six weeks after birth, typically occurring suddenly without warning.

NEC Treatment

Your infant’s doctor may start medical treatment first if the intestine is not perforated or only a small part of the intestine is affected by NEC. Otherwise, the doctor will recommend surgery to remove the damaged parts of the intestine.

Medical treatment for NEC includes:

  • Halting regular feedings and replacing them with intravenous feeding
  • Suctioning air and fluids from the infant’s stomach through a nasogastric tube
  • Starting antibiotic therapy
  • Monitoring the stools for blood
  • Performing frequent blood tests to check for blood chemistry imbalances and infections
  • Providing oxygen (if the baby is having difficulty breathing)
  • Giving the baby platelet or red blood cell transfusions, if necessary

NEC treatment is likely to cause higher medical bills. If you file a case against Abbott, you may include the expenses for these treatments as part of the damages.

The Risks of Cow’s Milk-Based Baby Formula

The exact cause of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is unknown. However, numerous studies link cow milk formulas, such as Similac and Enfamil, to an increased risk of a premature infant developing NEC.

Many premature and low birth weight infants spend weeks or even months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Most are given cow’s milk-based formula or human milk fortifier to substitute for human milk. Although Similac baby formula is generally safe to consume for full-term babies, it increases the risk of developing NEC in babies born prematurely.

Here are some studies showing the dangers of Similac formulas for premature infants:

  • One study found that 21% of babies with low birth weights fed with cow-based formulas developed necrotizing enterocolitis; only 3% of breastfed babies developed NEC.
  • Another randomized study found that 17% of premature babies fed cow's milk-based formula contracted NEC, compared to 5% of infants fed human breast milk.
  • Children who develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) are usually those with premature birth, which can also be a symptom of fetal growth restriction.

The scientific evidence associating NEC with Similac baby formula dates more than 30 years. Hence, many health organizations warn against feeding Similac and other cow milk formulas to premature babies and low birth weight infants.

Ingredients in Similac Baby Formula

Similac is a popular baby formula used to fulfill nutrient gaps for newborns and babies, especially those that have difficulty breastfeeding. Common Similac formula products include:

  • Similac Advance
  • Similac Special Care
  • Similac Alimentum
  • Similac Pro-Sensitive
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier (contains no human milk)

The protein ingredients in Similac infant formulas are whey protein concentrate from cow’s milk and nonfat milk. The official Similac website claims that their infant formula is non-GMO, easy to digest, and is made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones.

These ingredients aim to mimic the benefits of human breast milk, and Similac baby formula succeeds in helping premature infants develop--to a certain extent. However, the Similac formula also increases the risk of NEC, which is a risk that no parent wants to take.

Lack of Warning Labels

Despite the wealth of scientific evidence linking cow’s milk to an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), Abbott Laboratories never included a warning label on their products to maintain their marketability.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explicitly states that baby formula must clearly state any warnings against improper preparation or use.

The deliberate failure to meet this legal obligation is the basis for Similac NEC lawsuits. Mead Johnson Nutrition, the manufacturer of Enfamil products, is also facing similar lawsuits for failing to warn consumers against the risk of NEC.

Status of Similac Baby Formula Lawsuits

Both Abbott and Mead Johnson are facing lawsuits all over the country for failing to warn consumers about the link between cow milk-based infant formula with a higher risk of developing NEC. Abbott is defending itself by arguing that the plaintiffs’ baby formula NEC lawsuits are preempted by federal law under the Infant Formula Act of 1980.

The Infant Formula Act states that the FDA must review all baby formula products before being put on the shelves. Because the FDA approved Similac for selling, it cannot be considered defectively designed.

On the other side of the court, plaintiffs are asserting product liability claims based on failure to warn. Here are other causes of action for a Similac NEC lawsuit:

  • Strict product liability
  • Negligence
  • Breach of warranty
  • Wrongful death lawsuits(if the infant passed away due to NEC)
  • Intentional misrepresentation
  • Negligent misrepresentation

Similac Class Action Lawsuit

Similac NEC lawyers expect the number of Similac lawsuits to grow. All pending Similac NEC lawsuits against Abbott in the federal courts will be joined into an MDL (multidistrict litigation) under Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois. Hence, if you file a Similac lawsuit in another state, your case will be transferred to Illinois.

MDLs are similar to typical class action lawsuits. However, the cases remain separate and are only grouped for pretrial discovery. Many baby formula NEC lawsuits find more favorable conditions in Illinois, where Abbott and Enfamil are headquartered.

Baby formula lawyers of most of the plaintiffs filed a motion requesting the Supreme Court of Illinois to consolidate all pending Similac lawsuits into a single baby formula class-action lawsuit in Madison County.

Is There a Similac Recall?

As of 2022, Abbott has not recalled Similac despite the mounting evidence of NEC in preterm infants. The most recent voluntary recall was in February 2022, when products manufactured in the company’s Michigan facility caused bacterial infections in six infants (two of which died).

There is a Similac recall class action based on February 18, 2022, recall for Similac, Elecare, and Alimentum. The FDA warns consumers against using these products if:

  • The first two digits of the code on the packaging are 22 through 37
  • The code on the packaging includes K8, SH, or Z2
  • The product’s expiration date is 4-1-2022 or later

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are also handling Similac recall lawsuits from families whose infants suffered food poisoning and Similac lawsuits associated with NEC.

Filing a Similac Lawsuit

Similac lawsuits require specific qualifications. You may be able to file a Similac NEC lawsuit if your child was:

  • Fed formula made with bovine milk or milk fortifier products manufactured by Abbott
  • Diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Born prematurely or with a low birth weight

Talking to a baby formula lawyer is the best way to determine if you have a valid case. They can also help you collect evidence, strengthen your claim, and represent you in a Similac NEC litigation.

Damages in Toxic Baby Formula Lawsuits

If your premature baby developed NEC after being fed Similac formula, you are entitled to seek legal compensation for your family's damages. These may include:

  • Medical expenses: You can receive financial compensation for past and present medical bills associated with treating your child’s NEC. However, the cost of an emergency procedure to remove the intestine can be prohibitive. In addition, premature babies may need follow-up surgeries as they get older.
  • Pain and suffering: The baby can experience significant pain and discomfort from the infection. Your family may also sue for emotional distress caused by the child’s illness.
  • Lost wages: Your family may be paid for income lost from missing work to care for the child.
  • Wrongful death: Nearly one out of three premature babies who develop NEC will die from the condition. If that happens, your family can receive wrongful death damages as well.

Speak with a law firm to discuss your legal options. You may also be able to file a survival action to recover for what the baby went through before they died.

The Statute of Limitations

Under state and federal law, the parents of the infant party (plaintiff) must file a claim with the defendant (responsible company) within a specified period of time. This timeframe is generally 2 years from the baby’s NEC diagnosis. The defendant must respond to the complaint and either agree to pay damages or deny responsibility for damages.

This action is more about filing an NEC lawsuit. If the company denies the claims, parents can file a lawsuit in court. Your lawyer would need to investigate your case. Then, the law firm would draft a complaint filed with the court, beginning the legal process in your case.

According to data, approximately 95% of all civil lawsuits involving contaminated baby formula are resolved through negotiated settlements outside of court. Only a tiny percentage of the remaining cases are ever presented at trial. Because of that, it is crucial to use baby formula lawyers who have honed negotiation skills to maximize the amount you are entitled to receive.

Suing for Medical Malpractice

A premature infant developing NEC does not only lead to a Similac NEC lawsuit. Some parents also file medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors and hospitals that facilitated formula feeding despite knowing the risks.

Doctors are responsible for providing professional medical advice regarding infant formulas. They should be aware of the risks of giving vulnerable preterm babies infant formula with bovine milk.

However, many health care professionals remain unaware of the dangers of giving cow’s milk-based baby formula to preterm infants and low birth weight babies. With that in mind, doctors and hospitals are not always held liable for the damages caused by Enfamil baby formula products.

Medical professionals may also be held responsible for causing NEC due to medical negligence, whether the infant was given cow milk formula or not. For example, if a medical staff member fails to recognize NEC symptoms or mitigate the infant’s risk of developing NEC, they may be held liable.

If your baby dies from NEC or food poisoning after being fed powdered baby formula with bovine milk, you may also file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and Abbott.

Avoiding the Risk of NEC With Breast Milk

As much as possible, ensure that your child is fed only human milk, especially if they are premature. Compared to formula, the nutrients in breast milk are more easily absorbed by your premature baby. Human milk also contains the key nutrients essential for your child’s brain growth and development.

Furthermore, breast milk is less likely to cause NEC. Preterm infants fed only human milk are less likely to develop the disease than infants given preterm formula. Breast milk proves to be effective against sepsis and infection, which are the complications of NEC.

If you cannot breastfeed due to hypoplasia (a condition that causes low or no breast milk production) or other similar conditions, consider sourcing human donor milk instead. If given human milk, extremely premature infants are less likely to develop NEC and other infections. Pasteurized donor milk is available at the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

If you are at risk for premature birth, ask your doctor about getting corticosteroid injections. This medication helps boost your fetus’s health and decreases the risk of lung and intestinal issues.

Finding an Attorney for Your Similac NEC Lawsuit

Feeding premature infants cow milk formula increases the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware that giving babies Similac can put their children at risk of this life-threatening disease.

If your child developed NEC from being given Similac baby formula, you might be entitled to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer and the hospital. Choosing a law firm with extensive experience dealing with Similac lawsuits is crucial in ensuring you get the best legal representation.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our product liability attorneys can help you with your Similac baby formula lawsuit and receive compensation for all the harm this product has caused.

Call us toll-free at (888 424-5757 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free case review for your Similac baby formula lawsuit today. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.


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