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Infant Formula Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Lawyers


Millions of babies are born in the United States each year without complication. Approximately 10% of babies born annually, which amounts to nearly 380,000 infants, are born premature. Premature birth can result in serious complications including, but not limited to, neurological disabilities. One serious condition that is common among premature newborns is necrotizing enterocolitis (“NEC”). This condition, which affects 1 in every 1,000 premature babies, can lead to serious complications including death.

Feeding Bottle of Baby Milk Formula on Table


NEC is a serious gastrointestinal condition that primarily affects premature babies. Infants that suffer from NEC experience complications because the condition severely inflames their small or large intestinal tissue, which causes the tissue to die. For babies born prematurely, the risk is greatest when the baby weighs less than three pounds at the time of birth.  

Generally, infants who are born premature that contract NEC will do so within three to six weeks after birth. Often, these infants will experience a sudden rapid downturn in health without any warning. Symptoms of NEC include abdominal pain, changes in heart rate or breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and refusing to eat. The condition is diagnosed through an examination with your healthcare provider who may take x-ray scans and run blood or fecal tests. 

Complications for premature infants who develop NEC can range from mild to severe. These infants may develop complications including abdominal infection, intestinal stricture, short gut syndrome, or developmental delays. Even with treatment, NEC can result in infection, long-term complications, and even death in more severe cases.


Doctors have not conclusively determined what causes infants who are born prematurely to develop NEC. However, premature infants do have weaker lungs and intestines than full-term babies, which means their bodies are unable to sufficiently move blood and oxygen. Premature infants also have weaker immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to developing infection. 

In the United States, thousands of babies born prematurely develop NEC annually and hundreds of these babies ultimately die from complications stemming from their diagnosis. For babies who survive NEC, many face lifelong neurological or physical complications. 

When possible, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that premature babies receive breastmilk. If a mother’s breastmilk is not a viable option for an infant, milk-based fortifiers are often used as the infant’s primary nutritional source. There are two types of milk-based fortifiers that infants are given: (1) cow’s milk-based fortifiers and (2) human milk-based fortifiers. 

Human milk-based fortifiers have been available for over fifteen years in the United States for use with infants who were born prematurely. Human-milk based fortifiers contain human milk oligosaccharides (“HMOs”), which are complex sugars unique to human milk that have many beneficial properties for infants. HMOs provide numerous benefits to infants including fostering positive effects on the immune cells in the infant’s gut and promoting the growth of probiotic bacteria. Unlike human milk-based fortifiers, which naturally contain HMOs, cow’s milk-based fortifiers do not naturally contain HMOs and the manufacturers of these products do not add a substantial amount of HMOs to their cow’s milk-based products. 

For years, studies have shown that the risk of developing NEC goes up significantly when an infant consumes cow’s milk-based products. Studies have shown that infants who consume human milk-based fortifiers have up to a 77% lower risk of developing NEC when compared to infants who receive cow’s milk-based formula or fortifiers. Despite this significantly increased risk of infants born prematurely developing NEC, cow’s milk-based fortifiers are still sold to parents and hospitals without sufficient warning as to the risks presented by these products.


Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, a large national personal injury law firm, is handling lawsuits against the manufacturers of Similac and Enfamil related to their cow’s milk-based formula products. We believe that these manufacturers of cow’s milk-based formula products knew or should have known of the increased risk that infants consuming their products would develop NEC. Despite this knowledge, the manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings to families with infants born prematurely as to the serious risks associated with cow’s milk-based formula products. 

These lawsuits involve allegations by parents whose prematurely-born children developed NEC after consuming cow’s milk-based formula products. In the lawsuits, parents are alleging that the manufacturers of cow’s milk-based formula products failed to comply with their duty to warn the public of the risks of NEC associated with use of their products. 

In a premature baby NEC lawsuit, gathering and documenting evidence will be critical in terms of linking NEC to the cow milk-based formula used. Relevant evidence includes medical records, treatment records, receipts, photographs, and witness statements. Once liability is established, the focus turns to damages. A lawsuit on behalf of a premature baby who contracted NEC may include compensation for: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Future medical costs 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages of the parents
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 

The success of these lawsuits will require proving that your infant developed NEC as a result of taking cow’s milk-based formula and this will require the testimony of expert witnesses. The manufacturers of cow’s milk-based formula products including Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories have denied any wrongdoing, but doctors and researchers have discovered links between premature infants taking cow’s milk-based formula and developing NEC. 

If your infant child was born prematurely and developed NEC after consuming cow’s milk-based formula, you understand the toll that this severe condition can cause for families. Families with an infant who suffered from NEC are entitled to pursue legal action for their damages including, medical bills, treatment, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. If your child passes away, a wrongful death claim can be pursued in court. However, there are time limitation requirements associated with filing or resolving these claims and a claim may be barred forever if the claimant does not comply with these requirements. 

Disclaimer: This is a legal advertisement. The choice of a lawyer is very important and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Free background information available upon request. Nahon, Saharovich and Trotz is a large, national personal injury law firm. Various firm attorneys will provide legal services, depending upon the particular state, although cases may be referred to other co-counsel. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.