Preterm infants and Very Low Birth Weight (LBW) infants have nutritional requirements that breastfeeding cannot always satisfy. In these cases, parents and hospitals turn to baby formulas to supplement breastfeeding. Recent research has found that cow milk-based baby formula can cause a potentially deadly health condition.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is the death of tissues in the intestine. Common symptoms are abdominal bloating, bloody stool, and vomiting. NEC is most common in LBW and premature babies. NEC leads to intestinal failure, multi-organ failure and is fatal for up to 40% of infants.
The NEC, Formula Connection
Cow milk-based baby formula is proven to increase the likelihood of NEC in infants. Infants who receive a mix of breastmilk and formula are three times more likely to develop NEC. Those who only receive formulas are six to ten times more likely to develop NEC. The likelihood grows when LBW and premature babies are fed formula.
Premature babies are more susceptible to NEC because of their immature Paneth cells. Paneth cells are responsible for the intestines’ immune response. Immature babies have not fully developed their Paneth cells, so their intestines are susceptible to NEC. In lab rat experiments, Paneth cell disruption and formula milk created NEC injuries.
Who is Liable?
Baby formula manufacturers almost exclusively use cow milk in their formula recipes. Newborn intensive care units commonly feed premature babies special formulas like Similac Special Care and Enfamil Premature. Formulas are used because of insufficient breast milk supply and the growth benefits of calorie-dense formula recipes. However, the risk of deadly NEC outweighs the benefits of cow milk formula.
Formula manufacturers may be liable for the harm caused by formula-induced NEC. Three kinds of defects can lead to product liability. They are design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.
● Design defects
A design defect is an inherently unsafe quality or characteristic in the product’s design. Baby formula that uses ingredients known to expose babies to a heightened risk of a deadly disease is a design defect.
● Manufacturing defect
A manufacturing defect occurs in the creation and transportation of the product. In a cow milk-based baby formula lawsuit, a manufacturing defect could be an error resulting in contamination or an incorrectly printed expiration date.
● Marketing defect
A marketing defect is marketing, labeling, or information that hazardously negates or misrepresents information. Baby formula companies failing to inform consumers of the increased NEC risk their formula contains is a marketing defect.
If you believe your baby developed NEC because of cow milk-based formula, an attorney can help you build a compensation claim. Michigan baby formula lawsuit attorneys can answer any questions you have about filing a lawsuit.
The Legal Path Forward
Once a lawsuit is filed, the prosecution (you and your legal team) must prove four key points to win the case.
● The product caused injury
Only those who have sustained injury or death may bring a lawsuit. Exposure to injury risk is not enough to successfully bring a lawsuit.
● The product that caused the injury was defective
You must prove the product was harmful and that a consumer could not have known it would be harmful to establish a marketing defect.
● The defect caused the injury
You must prove the defect itself is the cause of the injury. Your attorney may present evidence that the formula significantly increases the likelihood of NEC.
● You used the product as intended
You must show the product was used as the manufacturer intended to prove it is liable for injuries or death.
File a Lawsuit With Our Help
You deserve compensation for injuries your baby incurred as a result of cow milk-based baby formula. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations limits how long you can wait to act.
If your baby has been injured or died due to formula-induced NEC, contact our baby formula attorneys today for a free consultation. Our legal team can explain your legal rights and the next steps at your consultation. There is no legal obligation when you contact us.
Fieger Law represents clients locally and nationally, proudly serving clients in Michigan and across the United States.