2 Baby Formula Lawsuits Involving Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

Similac & Enfamil – Baby Formula Lawsuits Involving Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

Having a baby is usually a treasured experience, but when that child is born premature (generally defined as more than three weeks before the estimated due date), it can lead to unique challenges for parents and caregivers.

Since premature babies are typically underweight and undeveloped, they often require extra care and nutrition to aid in weight gain and development. As a result, it’s not uncommon for medical providers to recommend feeding premature infants with specially designed formulas, including formulas derived from cow’s milk.

Alarmingly, there is growing evidence that products like these manufactured by baby formula manufacturers Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson & Company may put premature babies at an increased risk for a serious and life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC for short).

Why are these two manufacturers specifically singled out in lawsuits?

Long-established and recent scientific studies1,2,3 highlight connections between cow-milk-derived baby formulas and digestive diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which can result in damage, long-term digestive disease, and even death in worst cases.

The reason Abbott Laboratories (manufacturer of Similac) and Mead Johnson & Company (manufacturer of Enfamil) are the specific targets of recent lawsuits stems from the fact that these companies negligently failed to list the potentially life-threatening risks associated with these kinds of formulas.

What is necrotizing enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis is a disease that can affect the large and small intestines. It occurs when the tissue inside the intestines becomes injured or inflamed, which can lead to cell death (necrosis) of the intestinal tissue and in worst-case scenarios, a hole in the intestinal wall. This hole, or perforation, in the intestine, allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which can cause a life-threatening infection.

Necrotizing enterocolitis primarily affects premature babies and babies born under 3.25 pounds who receive formula during the early stages of their lives. The condition is relatively uncommon, but when it does occur it can be especially dangerous because these infants’ immune systems are not fully developed, meaning they are incapable of fighting off the kinds of harmful bacteria that cause NEC.

Necrotizing enterocolitis symptoms & causes

Per KidsHealth.org, the symptoms of NEC may vary from child to child and may resemble symptoms of other digestive problems, such as a food allergy. A baby with necrotizing enterocolitis may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen, red, or tender belly
  • Difficulty eating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea and/or dark or bloody feces
  • Lethargy, or reduced activity
  • Low or fluctuating body temperature
  • Green or yellowish-green vomit
  • Apnea (pauses in breathing)
  • Slow heart rate (known as bradycardia)
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)

While severe cases can be fatal, most infants with NEC survive the disease. However, many suffer from serious long-term injuries that can lead to lifelong health concerns.

The exact cause of NEC is not always clear, but there is one that is both clear and preventable. Since the 1990s, medical science has been aware of the connection between NEC and formulas derived from cow’s milk. However, due to the wide availability and reduced costs associated with these products, some medical providers continue using and recommending these kinds of products despite the availability of human breast milk-derived alternatives.

What makes a case eligible for a baby formula lawsuit?

Whether or not a specific case of NEC caused by the baby formula is eligible for a lawsuit and compensation depends on a number of factors, and each case needs to be carefully reviewed by a legal professional. Of the lawsuits that have arisen thus far, some of the main causes of action include:

  • Strict product liability, or a defective product suit
  • Failure to warn consumers of the dangers associated with their product
  • Gross negligence due to reckless or deliberate disregard for the safety of others
  • Intentional or negligent misrepresentation
  • Medical malpractice (against healthcare providers who prescribe these formulas)
  • Wrongful death lawsuits (in cases where the baby died)

If your child was injured or died because of necrotizing enterocolitis caused by their baby formula, don’t try to decide if your case is eligible for legal action by yourself. Contact the experienced legal professionals at GreeningLaw, P.C. today.

GreeningLaw, P.C. wants to help

GreeningLaw P.C. is one of the most recognized personal injury law firms in Texas because we treat each case with the same dedication we would extend to our own family, bringing everything in our power to bear to ensure that our clients get the compensation they deserve.

If your child developed a health condition after consuming Enfamil, Similac, or another similar baby formula, we want to help. Our experience litigating complex medical cases and our access to extensive resources allows us to hold even the biggest companies accountable for their negligent actions.

Contact us anytime to schedule a free consultation. In it, we’ll go over the elements of your case, discuss any possible compensation you may receive, and suggest the best course of action. And because our attorneys work on a contingency basis, you don’t pay unless you get compensation for your case.

We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal!


  1. Lucas A, Cole TJ. Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis. Lancet. 1990 Dec 22-29;336(8730):1519-23. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)93304-8. PMID: 1979363.
  2. Minekawa R, Takeda T, Sakata M, Hayashi M, Isobe A, Yamamoto T, Tasaka K, Murata Y. Human breast milk suppresses the transcriptional regulation of IL-1beta-induced NF-kappaB signaling in human intestinal cells. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2004 Nov;287(5):C1404-11. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00471.2003. Epub 2004 Jun 30. PMID: 15229109.
  3. Ochoa TJ, Mendoza K, Carcamo C, Zegarra J, Bellomo S, Jacobs J, Cossey V. Is Mother’s Own Milk Lactoferrin Intake Associated with Reduced Neonatal Sepsis, Necrotizing Enterocolitis, and Death? Neonatology. 2020;117(2):167-174. doi: 10.1159/000505663. Epub 2020 Feb 13. PMID: 32053823; PMCID: PMC7381382.