NEC baby formula is a mass tort that attorneys should closely monitor. Individuals are filing NEC baby formula lawsuits against manufacturers of cow’s milk-based formula. Plaintiffs claim these products caused preterm infants to develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening intestinal disease. Lawsuits allege cow’s milk infant formula led to infant illnesses and even fatalities nationwide.
About NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
Lawsuits filed by parents of infants who suffered injury or died due to cow’s milk-based formulas are underway. Plaintiffs assert these particular formulas provide no warning concerning the risk of preterm infants contracting necrotizing enterocolitis. Instead, manufacturers such as Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories marketed cow’s milk-based formulas as safe and did not advise against feeding preterm babies these products. Necrotizing enterocolitis is an intestinal disorder primarily affecting premature infants or sick newborns. With NEC, the intestinal tissue dies and falls off, forming perforations in the intestines. Bacteria can then leak into the abdomen or bloodstream through these holes.
Manufacturers in NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
Mead Johnson and Abbott Nutrition are the defendants in these NEC baby formula claims. Mead Johnson, based in Indiana manufactures the cow’s milk-based formula Enfamil. Abbott Laboratories, headquartered in Illinois, produces the cow’s milk-based formula Similac.
NEC Baby Formula Injuries
NEC remains a leading cause of death in premature infants, with a mortality rate as high as 50%. Symptoms related to NEC include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Changes in heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing
- Diarrhea with bloody stool
- Green or yellow vomit
- Refusal to eat and weight loss
Injuries related to NEC include:
- Abdominal infections such as peritonitis
- Intestinal stricture
- Short bowel (short gut) syndrome
- Growth failure and developmental delays
Key NEC Cow’s Milk-Based Formula Studies
Various research has established a potential link between cow’s milk-based formulas and NEC in preterm infants. One of the first studies to identify a relationship between cow’s milk-based formula and NEC was published in the Lancet in 1990. The study found that babies fed solely formula were more than 20 times more likely to develop NEC. Additional studies followed the Lancet publication, unearthing a concerning trend. In 2012, a study in the Journal of Pediatric Research concluded that infants fed breast milk were anywhere between 40% to 90% less likely to suffer NEC than those given formula. Another important study in the British Medical Journal that examined manufacturers’ clinical trials and conduct will likely play a significant role in NEC baby formula lawsuits. This study found a “universal lack of transparency” and selective reporting between and within formula milk trials. The research suggested that formula trials are unreliable and biased, with manufacturers selectively reporting favorable results.
NEC Baby Formula Status of Litigation
In April 2022, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated NEC baby formula claims. The JPML consolidated federal NEC baby formula lawsuits into MDL-3026 in the Northern District of Illinois, with Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer presiding. Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson supported the centralization of these claims. As of September 2023, 263 actions are pending under MDL-3026. Plaintiffs, defendants, and the court have selected twelve Similac and Enfamil cases for potential bellwether trials as part of Judge Pallmeyer’s “bellwether program.” Fact discovery for these 12 cases should conclude in April 2023, and the trials may begin in 2024.
NEC Baby Formula Settlement and Verdicts
We are still in the early phases of this litigation and there have not been any NEC baby formula verdicts or settlements at this time.