Is Baby Formula Dangerous for Premature Infants?

Baby Formula Risks

Expecting a baby is a significant life event and an exciting time for families. It can also be a stressful time, as parents worry about having a healthy, full-term baby. This is a well-founded concern considering about 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the United States. This translates to a preterm birth rate (percentage of babies born before 37 weeks) of 9.8 percent, meaning one in 10 babies is born too early. Premature babies face an increased risk of health problems, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), the most common and serious intestinal disease among premature infants.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious gastrointestinal condition with a mortality rate ranging from 10 to more than 50 percent. NEC is what happens when tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or inflamed. This can lead to the death of intestinal tissue, and in some cases, a hole in the intestinal wall. Bacteria and waste can then enter the abdomen and bloodstream through this hole.

What Are the Complications of NEC?

An infant with NEC is at risk for a range of health problems, including:

    • Abdominal infection: If an infant with NEC develops a hole in the intestinal wall, bacteria then enter the abdominal cavity, and an infection called peritonitis results. This increases the risk of a life-threatening blood infection called sepsis.
    • Short bowel (short gut) syndrome: A child may develop this if NEC destroys or damages part of the small intestine. This condition makes it hard for the body to absorb fluids and nutrients, resulting in children needing care to get the nutrition they need to grow. Some children with this condition require tube feedings.
  • Growth failure and developmental delays: Infants with NEC may face long-term complications including growth failure, poor neurodevelopmental outcomes, and developmental delays, particularly if they required surgery.

What Are the Symptoms of NEC?

An infant with NEC may exhibit any of these symptoms:

  • A swollen, red, or tender belly
  • Green or yellow vomit
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Changes to blood pressure and heart rate

What Causes NEC?

While there is no single, definitive answer as to what causes NEC in preterm infants, experts believe several factors may play a role, including formula feeding. Human breast milk is associated with reductions in the occurrence of NEC in preterm infants – in fact, the World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed until the age of six months. Premature infants have weaker immune systems and weaker digestive systems, which makes it harder for them to fight intestinal infections. Breast milk is much easier to digest than formula and can help a baby’s intestines develop, helping the baby fight infections.

Is There a Link Between Baby Formula and NEC?

Studies show that formula-fed preterm infants face an increased risk of NEC. In one study, researchers compared the medical records of preterm infants who received pasteurized human donor milk (PHDM) to those who received baby formula. The results showed that compared to the PDHM group, the formula-fed infants were more likely to be transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit for concerns related to NEC.

Have There Been Any Baby Formula Lawsuits?

Manufacturers of popular baby formulas are facing dozens of baby formula lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege that manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings about the increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in their preterm babies. Had plaintiffs been adequately informed, they might have opted to give their premature babies human milk while avoiding formula. This might have prevented occurrences of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants afflicted by this condition.

A baby formula attorney can help parents of preterm babies suffering from NEC determine whether they have a valid products liability claim against a baby formula manufacturer.

How We Help NEC Victims’ Families 

Seek justice with the help of our experienced baby formula attorneys. Based in Dallas, Texas, our law firm has battled multinational corporations for 20 years, fighting to hold them responsible for birth defects and personal injuries caused by dangerous products. If you have a child who has suffered from NEC or other birth defects due to dangerous products, we can help.

What are my chances?

That’s the first question everyone asks. The truth is it’s impossible to know. But we can tell you this. Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has what it takes to fight against big corporate interests and win. That’s why we’ve taken more mesothelioma trials to verdict than any other firm. And that’s why we’ve recovered more than $1.3 billion for clients like you. Do you think you have a case? Contact us now to speak with an attorney.

Call 800.226.9880