Similac and Enfamil Caused Preterm Baby to Suffer Long-Term NEC Complications, Lawsuit Claims

Abbott and Mead Johnson put preemies at risk of long-term NEC complications without warning parents or healthcare providers about the risks of cow's milk based formula, according to the lawsuit.

A Wisconsin mother indicates that her preterm baby was left with long-term necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) complications after being fed Similac and Enfamil shortly after being birth, alleging in a recently filed lawsuit that the formula manufacturers failed to warn families and healthcare providers about the risk.

Vicki Meier filed the complaint (PDF) late last month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, pursuing product liability claims on behalf of herself and her minor child against Abbott Laboratories, the makers of Similac; and Mead Johnson & Company, the manufacturer of Enfamil, on behalf of herself and her minor child.

For decades, the manufacturers have marketed cow’s milk-based formula products specifically for preterm infants, despite repeated warnings from the medical and scientific community that they increase the risk of NEC, which is a devastating ailment that can cause the children to suffer long-term complications or result in death.

Lawsuit Alleges NEC Complications from Infant Formula Could Have Been Avoided

The case joins a growing number of similar NEC complication lawsuits filed against Abbott and Mead Johnson in recent months, each raising similar allegations that the companies placed their desire for profits before the health and safety of premature infants, by providing false and misleading safety information about the risks associated with infant formula compared to human breast milk.

Meier indicates in the complain that her child, identified with the initials L.M., was born prematurely in 2007, and was fed cow’s milk-based formula, which led to the development of NEC. As a result of the complications, he suffered devastating and painful injuries, which required emergency surgery and have left him with long-term injuries..

“Defendants do not warn the users, the parents, or the medical providers and staff that these Cow’s Milk Products can cause NEC or death, nor do they provide any guidance on how to avoid or reduce the risks of NEC or death while using their products,” Meier’s lawsuit states. “Unfortunately, this means that vulnerable consumers continue to use and buy these products, resulting in greater health care costs and in more preventable deaths.”

For more than two decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns about the marketing of infant formula, which caused many mothers to use the cow’s milk products instead of their own breast milk or available donor milk products.

The lawsuit claims neither company provided any warning in its labeling, websites or marketing that discussed the risk of NEC, and the resulting complications that can result for families of preterm infants.

Meier’s case will be consolidated with dozens of Similac lawsuits and Enfamil lawsuits pending against Abbott and Mead Johnson, which have been centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

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