Did your child tragically perish due to Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
Parker Waichman LLP offers a free case review to parents who lost their preterm child due to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) feeding their baby Enfamil, Similac, or other cow’s milk-based formula.
Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is a common food allergy in preterm babies, infants, and children. Milk allergies produce an extensive range of severe symptoms and adverse health effects. These reactions range in intensity amongst babies and often involve many different organ systems. However, the gastrointestinal tract usually sustains the most damaged. Cow’s milk allergies are the top cause of food-protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) in premature babies, infants, and newborns.
Cow’s milk protein allergy symptoms include pallor, recurrent vomiting, hypoalbuminemia, dehydration with metabolic acidosis in the acute setting, lethargy, chronic “failure to thrive,” and diarrhea with blood and/or mucus. It is common for there to be a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of food-protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). If left untreated, or if the baby is not taken off the cow’s milk-based formula, the infant can develop Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).
Baby Formula Brands That Could Include Cow’s (Bovine) Milk Proteins
The amount of cow’s milk protein varies from brand to brand. The following infant formula brands may contain a bovine-based formula:
- Baby’s Only
- Earth’s Best
- Go & Grow
- Happy Baby
- Parent’s Choice
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe and life-threatening condition in which a baby’s intestines become inflamed. If the inflammation is persistent and left untreated, an infection can form and destroy the infant’s bowel walls. Damage to an infant’s bowel walls leads to stool leaking into the baby’s abdomen, causing sepsis and death when untreated. According to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, NEC is the most common cause of gastrointestinal morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
A premature infant’s risk of acquiring Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is increased when the baby consumes cow’s milk-based formulas. NEC leads to severe and fatal medical conditions such as sepsis. When a baby develops NEC, the child will suffer a range of severe health complications that will require emergency surgery.
A research study published by the Imperial College in London found that “enteral feeding with cow’s milk formula is associated with neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis.” This study also discovered that dietary antigen sensitization plays a part in “promoting and/or sustaining inflammation.” The Imperial College study focused its investigation on cytokine responses when cow’s milk protein (CMP) is fed to preterm infants without NEC or sepsis as compared to preterm babies who have NEC and sepsis and also preterm babies with NEC. The research study discovered that the acute phases of NEC produce a high level of cytokine secretion when unstimulated and stimulated by CMPs such as beta-lactoglobulin (lg) and casein as well as mitogen [phytohaemagglutinin (PHA)]. Cytokine responses also occur when the infants have sepsis, although in lower levels. The group of a healthy babies in the study showed the least amount of Cytokine response.
When the human body produces an immediate and high level of cytokine, this immune response is termed a “cytokine storm.” Cytokine storms can begin attacking the body’s own healthy cells and tissues instead of foreign substances, bacteria, or viruses. Cytokine storms may lead to life-threatening organ damage and increase the risk of death.
According to another research study conducted by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, “extremely premature babies” were fed human donor milk were less disposed to acquire necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) as compared to babies fed the conventional premature baby formula made with cow’s milk. The research studies also revealed that premature infants fed “bovine” based baby formulas were more likely to contract necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) than infants fed human breast milk. Numerous studies have confirmed these same conclusions.
Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Deadly?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) can lead to fatal outcomes if left untreated, and NEC cases have resulted in intestinal resection. According to numerous research studies published on pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, NEC happens in about 5–12% of very low birth weight babies. 20 to 40% of NEC cases require surgery, and 25% to 50% of NEC cases are fatal.
What Are the Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) symptoms begin to surface within a few days to a couple of weeks. The most obvious sign of NEC is swelling of the abdomen, which is known as abdominal distension. The following is a list of signs and symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC):
- Abdominal wall erythema
- Apnea (Breathing pauses)
- Bloody or dark stools
- Bradycardia (Slowed heart rate)
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Decreased bowel sounds
- Decreased peripheral perfusion
- Delayed gastric emptying and constipation
- Hypotension (Low blood pressure)
- Low or unstable body temperature
- Tender, red, or painful abdomen
- Trouble feeding
- Vomiting, particularly green vomit containing bile
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) normally requires medication to treat. However, severe cases of NEC will require surgery, and intestinal surgery brings the risk of permanent injury.
Who Can You Hold Liable For Your Baby’s NEC Death?
A majority of baby formula manufacturers do no list the potential hazards or risks of preterm infant necrotizing enterocolitis on the packaging of their cow’s milk-based formula. Moreover, neonatologists and pediatricians may not be aware of the risks associated with cow’s milk-based formulas. If your preterm infant developed necrotizing enterocolitis due to a cow’s milk-based formula diet plan, you might be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer’s(s) of the infant or file a medical negligence lawsuit against the hospital or doctor.
TALK WITH ONE OF OUR NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS (NEC) LAWSUIT LAWYERS TODAY FOR FREE
If your baby was fed a cow’s milk-based baby formula and tragically passed away due to NEC, contact Parker Waichman LLP for your free case evaluation. An attorney from our firm will listen to you and investigate your baby’s case to ascertain if there are grounds to file a lawsuit.
Our firm is dedicated to superior advocacy, and we have received numerous honors from the legal community and beyond, including:
- A 9.8 (out of a perfect 10) rating by AVVO, a service that rates every attorney in the United States
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For your free case review, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by using our Live Chat feature, filling out our online form, or by calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
 Abdelhamid, A., Chuang, SL., Hayes, P. et al. In Vitro Cow’s Milk Protein-Specific Inflammatory and Regulatory Cytokine Responses in Preterm Infants With Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Sepsis. Pediatr Res 69, 165–169 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1203/PDR.0b013e31820263e7
 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “Formula-fed preemies at higher risk for dangerous GI condition than babies who get donor milk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110430171122.htm>.