Similac lawsuit: What was wrong with the baby Similac food formula?

Today’s post is about the Similac lawsuit – Similac baby formula, which claims that the formula is based on cow’s milk that helps cover the biological needs of premature babies.

Reportedly, every year in the United States one in ten newborn babies are born premature (before completing 37 weeks/9.25 months of pregnancy). According to CDC, these reports are even higher compared to the rates of the babies born with a low birth weight which is 2500grams/5.5 lbs. and one in every twelve newborns in the US are born underweight. However, it is understandable that premature babies are likely to be born underweight. 

Most premature or preterm babies lead a happy life and survive their early days to a healthy life as adults but that’s not necessarily the case with every preterm baby. Many with a premature body and health, need support in feeding in their early days. This can be the reason for the refusal of breastfeeding or weakness due to lethargy, which plays a part in poor weight gain and the physical buildup of preterm babies.

Also, due to the lack of energy and less milk intake they couldn’t make it through until they are offered effortless ways to get fed. Such as supplemental formulae. But are these formulas good for such babies? What is the Similac lawsuit all about? Keep reading to get to this point.

How Infant Formula affects preterm babies

Some studies have demonstrated that formulas based on cow’s milk production are not proving what they are supposed to. They are doing much harm to babies instead of doing good. Precisely, the formula is linked to crippling disease also known as NEC – Necrotizing Enterocolitis. It is also proved through a scientific study that;

“Premature infants fed formula are more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) than those who are breastfed.”

Even with this warning and knowledge given by the scientists, the manufacturers of baby formulas and baby feeds do not take the responsibility to warn medical practitioners or new parents regarding the associated dangers.

Updates about the NEC lawsuit till April’22

  • April 1, 2022 – Parents flooded over the law firms in March 2022 having 230 inquiries of the baby food with NEC contained in the problematic Enfamil or Similac formulas.
  • March 15, 2022 – Parents contacted law firms in March 2022 having 170 inquiries about the baby food with NEC contained in the problematic Enfamil or Similac formulas. Which were 240 in February.
  • February 18, 2022 – After the reports of fungal and bacterial infections, the United States Food and Drug Authorities (FDA) warned the parents against using baby powdered formula. Abbott, the manufacturer of infant food, recalled its products. After the detection of bacterial infections, three types of baby foods were recalled from the market.
  • February 17, 2022 – In Feb 2022, parents inquired through 150 complaints regarding NEC when they fed their babies with Similac Formulas
  • February 1, 2022 – For the prevention of the NEC disease in newborns probiotics were used by the National Cancer Institute.
  • January 20, 2022 – A cohort study found out that Probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis EVC001, which is a type of bacteria helps in NEC prevention by up to 73%.
  • December 16, 2021 – Jo Shandria White of Edwardsville, IL, allegedly said that the producers of the Enfamil and Similac Formula did not perform their duties of informing parents about the risk of initiating NEC symptoms when consuming cow milk-based products.

About Similac Lawsuit

Internationally popular baby formula producers Abbott Labs and Mead Johnson & company faced NEC lawsuits. The lawsuit claimed that Abbott production Similac and Mead Johnson product Enfamil should come with a warning for the parents regarding the associated dangers of using their products for newborns. The plaintiffs raised their voices against the baby food manufacturers that they knew the linked dangers and risks of their products but failed to inform parents that these formulas can bring serious injuries or infants and can be fatal for preterm babies.

The legal proceedings across the United States have just begun and experts are spreading the word while calling out sufferers of these formulas to come forward and play their part.

What is NEC – Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

NEC or Necrotizing Enterocolitis is a kind of gastrointestinal disease that results in perforations (holes) and inflammation in the intestine of the consumer. The disease becomes worse when through these holes, bacteria invade the stomach and flow through the bloodstream of the body. NEC has been already explained as a harmful and serious ailment whose mild symptoms can lead to life-threatening indications if not treated.

Why do babies get Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

This fatal disease is commonly found in premature babies where 9 out of 10 preterm babies are diagnosed with NEC in the US. Typically, babies born before 28 weeks are disclosed to NEC but babies can also receive the disease when there’s an event of blood transfusion or in cases where the receiver is fed through the stomach to provide required nutrition.

However, the medical experts know what made premature babies fall for NEC, but they are still not sure exactly what causes NEC.

Stages of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

NEC – Modified Bell Staging Criteria

Stage: IB

Classification: Suspected NEC

Intestinal Signs: Red bright blood from the rectum

Systemic Signs: Apnea, Lethargy, Bradycardia, instability in body temperature

Radiologic Signs: Mild ileus and normal intestinal dilation

Stage: IIA

Classification: Proven NEC – slightly ill

Intestinal Signs: Mild abdominal distention, increased pregavage residuals, emesis, red bright blood from rectum absence of bowel sound or/with abdominal tenderness, and guaiac-positive stool.

Systemic Signs: Apnea, Lethargy, Bradycardia, instability in body temperature

Radiologic Signs: Pneumatosis intestinalis, ileus, and normal intestinal dilation

Stage: IIB

Classification: Proven NEC – moderately ill

Intestinal Signs: Mild abdominal distention, increased pregavage residuals, emesis, red bright blood from rectum absence of bowel sound or/with/without abdominal tenderness, and guaiac-positive stool, definite abdominal tenderness, with/without abdominal cellulitis, or lower levels of quadrant mass.

Systemic Signs: Apnea, Lethargy, Bradycardia, instability in body temperature, mild thrombocytopenia, mild metabolic acidosis.

Radiologic Signs: Ileus, intestinal dilation, portal venous gas, and pneumatosis intestinalis.

Stage: IIIA

Classification: Advanced NEC – bowl intact, severely ill

Intestinal Signs: Mild abdominal distention, increased pregavage residuals, emesis, red bright blood from rectum absence of bowel sound or/with/without abdominal tenderness, and guaiac-positive stool, definite abdominal tenderness, with/without abdominal cellulitis, or lower levels of quadrant mass, positive signs of generalized peritonitis, distention of the abdomen, and marked tenderness.

Systemic Signs: Apnea, Lethargy, Bradycardia, instability in body temperature, mild thrombocytopenia, severe apnea, combined respiratory and metabolic acidosis, disseminated intravascular and neutropenia.

Radiologic Signs: Ileus, intestinal dilation, portal venous gas, pneumatosis intestinalis, and definite ascites.

Stage IIIB

Classification: Advanced NEC – bowel perforation, severely ill

Intestinal Signs: Red bright blood from the rectum, Mild abdominal distention, increased pregavage residuals, emesis, red bright blood from rectum absence of bowl sound or/with/without abdominal tenderness, and guaiac-positive stool, definite abdominal tenderness, with/without abdominal cellulitis, or lower levels of quadrant mass, positive signs of generalized peritonitis, distention of the abdomen, and marked tenderness.

Systemic Signs: Apnea, Lethargy, Bradycardia, instability in body temperature, mild thrombocytopenia, severe apnea, combined respiratory and metabolic acidosis, neutropenia, and disseminated intravascular coagulation

Radiologic Signs: Signs: Ileus, intestinal dilation, portal venous gas, pneumatosis intestinalis without ascites, and pneumoperitoneum.

2021 Baby Formula Similac lawsuit updates

As mentioned, the baby formula is still in its initial stages and the plaintiffs are being called out by child injury attorneys to come forward. However, many cases have already been filed against the manufacturers of baby food. These lawsuits also include the lawsuit filed by the parents of Daniel Renteria-Hernandez in May 2021 against both Abbott Labs and Mead Johnson & Company in the Eastern District of California. 

The suit alleges the companies failed to inform parents and medical experts about the existing dangers of feeding the product to underweight and preterm babies.  Daniel was an underweight baby who just weighed 2 pounds when he was born in 2019 and died just after a few days from NEC. Daniel was subsequently fed on Similac during his short life span. The lawsuit lists numerous failures concerning baby feeding formula procedures. These failures listed breach of warranty, negligence, misrepresentation, etc. Further development against the suit was made in August 2021, when the judges refused to accept Abbott Laboratories’ plea to dismiss the wrongful death case filed by the Connecticut family. Another case was filed for the death of a baby Aries Peterson in October 2021. The case was moved after deliberation by the Supreme Court of Connecticut.

Treatments of NEC after Diagnosis

Symptoms of the NEC in a preterm or premature baby’s body typically start showing up in the first two weeks. As doctors are aware of the fact that premature babies and low birth weights are the two hosts of NEC, they specifically monitor babies with these complexities under the NEC symptom category. This may include blood in stool, vomiting, lethargy, and stomach swelling. However, it is hard to say that all the NEC symptoms are apparent. This is why sometimes it is usually accepted that NEC is not the case unless the doctor treats the baby thoroughly by performing X-rays and other clinical tests.

The doctor will examine the X-ray for signs of the bubbly intestine as the symptoms of NEC –  as NEC damages the intestine. The X-ray also unveils the amount of air in the liver and veins which is a true sign of NEC. They may also check the stool for blood clots, and signs of fluid in the abdomen, and may perform tests to identify the perforation of the intestine.

NEC symptoms can be severe and the treatments can be done according to the numerous influencing factors such as the severity of the disease, health, strength, and the age of the victim. Treatment can be started with IV feeding, giving antibiotics, and stopping feeding to the removal of the bowel or intestine in more severe cases.

Statistics of NEC affected cases

NEC, however, is the most lethargic disease that is often found in premature babies but the rare cases are there when it affected adults. Although it is not necessarily true that babies over 37 weeks of birth will not get affected by NEC, they do but usually, preterm babies with lower birth weight issues are more prone to NEC.

According to a rough estimation, babies with a birth weight between 1251 and 1500 grams (2lbs 12.13 ounces and 3lbs 4.9 ounces) have a 3% chance of getting NEC. However, babies with a birth weight of fewer than 750 grams (1lbs 10.46 ounces) are more susceptible with up to an 11% chance of having NEC.

In addition, the upsetting average shows that in every 100 cases of NEC, 15 preterm babies become unable to fight the disease and embrace death. Also, the babies who survive NEC in the initial stages of their life bear long-term lingering medical and health complications throughout their lives.

NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit Settlement

It will be too early to predict the outcome of the Similac lawsuit but as the awareness spreads across the US, more and more victims and parents are expected to come up and become part of legal proceedings. For now, making assumptions about the exact payout against the compensation for anyone who is affected and joined the lawsuit would be difficult.

The companies and manufacturers behind the cow milk powders and supplements for infants are being held responsible and are forced to take out millions of dollars as compensation amount. Not only for the NEC lawsuits but for all the infringements and violations they have been doing in the past.

In addition to the infringements, many recent allegations are pointing out that wrongful death along with serious injuries, life-threatening health issues, and chronic health conditions are directly linked to the Enfamil and Similac supplement products. Once it is proved (which many of the firms are confident) that Mead Johnson & Companies and Abbott Laboratories failed to warn parents and were held liable for the wrongful deaths caused by their alleged products, it is expected that every eligible family will have substantial compensation that may be exceeding their expectation.

NEC supplement attorneys

Numerous law firms and consumer attorneys are working for the complaints from the families who think that the Abbot laboratories and Enfamil Johnson & company are the ones involved in the injuries and the wrongful death of their newborn child. It has been proved from the alleged complaints that cow’s milk and NEC have a strong connection and the plaintiffs believe that the alleged companies should have taken measures and should know their responsibilities so the children can be protected from diseases and death.

One of the complainants even raises the question of the authorities asking why these two companies are still making a profit from their products and continuing to sell in the market when it is too apparent that the supplement and NEC are linked. Each year, there are thousands of babies across the United States are born preterm and many of them have their first day feeds with any of these supplemental products. This is the main reason why firms are expecting more parents to come and join the lawsuit.

If you or someone you know is affected by the defective baby supplement, you must contact your local consumer court to provide you with an attorney so you can find your eligibility to join the lawsuit against Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories.

Associated dangers of NEC

To understand the complications Necrotizing Enterocolitis can initiate to the victim, NEC symptoms are divided into its etymology; Entero- (relating to the intestines), Necrotizing (destroying of the tissue), and colitis (inflammation of the colon). 

However, nobody exactly knows what causes NEC, but breaking through the sections of its name can provide us insights into how an infant is affected by such diseases. The most common symptoms of NEC contain shrinking and narrowing down the intestinal stricture, perforations in the intestine (intestinal holes), developing intestinal scars, after removal of the intestine due to NEC diagnosis becoming unable to absorb food which normally leads to poor health, peritonitis (severe abdominal infections), and sepsis (infections throughout the body). Dealing with these complexities, it becomes difficult for the infants to survive and many lead to death from NEC.

Strong Symptoms of NEC

Although the symptoms are not apparent until the clinical tests are obtained and X-rays are performed, some symptoms can initially indicate the signs of NEC in the newborn;

  • Stomach swelling
  • Stomach pain
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in stool
  • Yellow or green colored vomiting
  • Alteration in blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and breathing
  • Refusal of food intake
  • Lack of weight gain

Expected reasons for Necrotizing Enterocolitis

As it is explained that there is no certain or broad consensus on what causes NEC, but the medical practitioners have pointed out some conditions where NEC can be detected and can be prevented in its early stages. You might have figured out the fact till now that low birth weight is one of the strongest hosts of NEC among any condition. Why? It is because of the common belief that premature infants likely have a weaker immune system which apparently makes them less capable of fighting this strong disease.

Also, babies with a weaker immune system have a weaker digestive system due to gastrointestinal conditions. Because of this, it becomes even more impossible for them to strive against infections and infectious bacteria. One more condition that preterm infants are more likely to affect is the difficulty in oxygen-carrying blood to the intestine which will help the infant to recover from infections and eventually disease.

While the issues mentioned above are not the only cause of prevailing NEC (they are not proven yet) but these conditions may lead to NEC if not treated timely. While the cause and reactions for initiating NEC are still unknown, preterm births with low weight can be one of the biggest causes of NEC in infants.

Moreover, it is now proven that babies who are fed on cow’s milk-based supplements like Enfamil and Similac are more likely prone to NEC. This is where the complainants in the lawsuit are arguing and wondering why there’s no warning on the labels of such proven health conditions or any preventive advice.

Similac lawsuit associated with Cow milk-based supplement

Abbott Laboratories produces a series of baby supplements under the brand Similac. Abbott industries are serving the baby food market for over 90 years with the moto – The Promise of Similac – with the substatement – “we promise to help keep your baby fed, happy, and healthy – However, not all of the baby products are found violating the consumer contract of breaching safety and not all of them are witnessed in the injury lawsuit. The Similac lawsuit is specifically based on the formula based on cow’s milk aimed to be made for preterm babies.

Here’s a list of products that are cited in the Similac lawsuit;

  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier and Similac Special Care
  • Similac Neosure
  • Similac Alimentum
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier
  • Similac Alimentum Expert Care
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Concentrated Liquid
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Powder
  • Similac Special Care 20
  • Similac Special Care 24 High Protein
  • Similac Special Care 24
  • Similac Special Care 30
  • Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier

Enfamil Baby Formula Lawsuit

Like the Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson and Company is also a popular name in the baby food industry. It is established under the name of Edward Mead who was a co-founder of another popular baby product manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. But later he split his family business and decided to launch his own company in the late 19th century. To date, Mead Johnson & Company aims to make children’s nutrition better through its products.

The NEC lawsuit that Mead Johnson & Company faces allege that its cow’s milk-based formula containing the Enfamil range leads to serious injuries and death of preterm and premature infants.

It is also observed that the plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Mead Johnson also engage Abbott Laboratories as defendants and for the Abbott lawsuits, Mead Johnsons are cited as co-defendants as infant offenders. This is because the preterm babies who died were fed on both Similac and Enfamil cow-based milk supplements and products. The products from Mead Johnson Enfamil series included in the lawsuits are;

  • Enfamil 24 and DHA & ARA Supplement
  • Enfacare Powder
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid High Protein
  • Enfamil Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
  • Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
  • Enfamil Premature 30 Cal
  • Enfamil Premature 24 Cal
  • Enfamil Premature 24 Cal/fl oz HP
  • Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid

NEC Lawsuit FAQs

Claimants and plaintiffs in the NEC lawsuits who have seen their newborn infants die in front of them due to NEC believe that the Similac and Enfamil baby formula manufacturers should take immediate precautionary measures and should have proactively participated in warming the parents about the possible dangers and risks of the product.

In addition, they believe that the defendant Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratory should be held liable for intentionally marketing their products, especially targeting preterm and babies born with low birth weights when they knew that the cow’s milk-based formula can lead to NEC.

Yes. Once NEC hits an infant, it can attack the body again at any time in life and lead to lifetime health issues and death will be the worst-case among them.

It will be too early to say that it is proven. But plentiful studies show that the premature or preterm babies who are fed on the products named under these series have a significantly high potential of getting affected by NEC. The bottom line of the lawsuits describes that despite knowing that the products caused NEC and are the reasons for infant deaths, the companies didn’t call out the products from the market.

Yes, but rare. There are reports of adults and babies born after 37 weeks of pregnancy getting NEC but the ratio compared to preterm babies is less.

Medical experts have not provided any specific instructions or causes that lead to NEC. Therefore, it is not likely possible to say that you can protect your baby from NEC. If a baby is born underweight or before completing the threshold for a normal pregnancy, the chances of getting NEC are higher. What you can do is contact your doctor and know the risks of premature deliveries.

Babies which were diagnosed with NEC when they were fed on Enfamil or Similac baby formulas – their parents can seek help from lawyers to join the NEC Similac lawsuit and have compensation.

Recent Posts