Law Firms Seeing Uptick in Claims Involving Infant Formula and NEC

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Law firms are seeing an uptick in claims involving cow’s milk-based infant formulas and a dangerous disease called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Despite advances in science and medicine, the rates of NEC continue to rise. Some suggest this is because of a greater reliance on infant formulas, rather than breastfeeding or using donor human milk.

National patient advocate law firm, Brown, Christie & Green, has received numerous inquiries from families affected by NEC. These families are questioning whether their infants developed NEC after being fed cow’s milk-based formulas.

Despite advances in science and medicine, the rates of NEC continue to rise. Some suggest this is because of a greater reliance on infant formulas, rather than breastfeeding or using donor human milk.

NEC is the most common intestinal disease affecting premature infants. Estimates suggest that 1-5% of premature infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) develop NEC. Around 5-10% of premature infants weighing less than 1,500 grams at birth develop the disease. While not specific to premature infants, the rates of NEC are far greater among infants born prematurely and those with very low birth weight. Sadly, around 50% of infants that develop NEC do not survive.

The risk of NEC is greatest among infants:

  • That are very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams)
  • Fed concentrated cow’s milk-based formulas
  • Who are significantly premature
  • Who suffer oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery
  • That have gastrointestinal infections

The premature infant’s immature bodily functions combined with feeding cow’s milk-based formulas or fortifiers is simply too much for the infant’s digestive system. According to research in Seminars of Perinatology,

“The use of human milk lowers the risk of NEC compared with intact bovine protein-based formula.”

Human infant bodies are not designed to process bovine protein. As a result, bacteria can develop and invade the large or small intestine. The lining of the intestines then becomes inflamed or infected. Quickly, this can spread and cause sepsis, bowel perforations and peritonitis.

Human milk, on the other hand, has protective qualities that reduce the risk of NEC substantially. Research shows that the benefits of a strictly human milk-based diet include:

  • Lowers the infant’s gastric pH.
  • Enhances the infant’s intestinal motility.
  • Promotes maturation of the infant’s immune system by providing lactoferrin and oligosaccharides.

NEC Awareness

Raising awareness of the risks of NEC is so important. Most parents are not aware that there is a risk when feeding their newborns formula or fortifiers. Formula manufacturers do not include warnings on their product labels, or provide instructions for how parents, healthcare providers or caregivers can reduce the risk of NEC when using their products.

Awareness is the best way to help parents and families understand the risks and make informed decisions about their child’s nutritional needs. If you have questions about NEC, contact Brown, Christie & Green to learn more.

Sources:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014600051630088X?via%3Dihub
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/neonatal-necrotizing-enterocolitis-prevention?topicRef=5006&source=related_link
https://www.medmalfirm.com/news-and-updates/study-human-milk-reduces-risk-of-nec/
https://www.medmalfirm.com/news-and-updates/prioritizing-human-milk-to-reduce-nec/

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Charles Brown
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