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Illinois Baby Formula Injury Attorney

Illinois Product Liability Lawyer for Harmful Baby Formula

Chicago Product Liability Lawyer for NEC Affecting Newborns Due to Baby Formula Use

During childbirth, doctors, nurses, and other personnel working at hospitals take great care to protect the health and safety of children. Medical professionals are trained to respond quickly and effectively to any concerns that may arise during labor and delivery, and they are often able to provide treatment that will prevent a child from suffering harm. However, some children may be at risk of injury due to other factors that affect them following birth. One issue that has been getting more attention in recent years is the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which has been linked to the use of baby formula for newborns.

Hospitals are meant to be safe places where patients will be protected from the risk of harm and provided with the proper treatment to address any medical issues that affect them. Unfortunately, some standard hospital practices, such as the use of baby formula to provide nutrition for infants, may come with unexpected risks. Parents of newborns who suffer harm due to the use of formula will want to determine their legal options, which may include pursuing a product liability lawsuit against a baby formula manufacturer or a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor or hospital. Newland & Newland, LLP can provide legal help to families who have experienced these issues, and we will work to ensure that injuries and illnesses related to the use of baby formula are addressed correctly.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

In rare cases, newborn infants may experience a severe, life-threatening inflammation of the intestines. In some cases, holes or perforations may form in the intestines, leading to serious infections when bacteria from the intestines enter the abdominal cavity or bloodstream. This condition may also cause intestinal blockages, or tissue in the intestines may die.

Symptoms of NEC include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Swollen or discolored abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, including bloody stools
  • Lethargy
  • Pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Difficulty with feeding
  • Lack of weight gain

Treatment for NEC will depend on how seriously a child has been affected. In many cases, surgery may need to be performed to remove dead tissue, drain fluid from the abdominal cavity, and correct blockages or repair holes in the intestines. If a large amount of intestinal tissue needs to be removed, this may affect the child's ability to absorb nutrients, and the child may require a bowel transplant or other life-saving interventions. Ongoing intestinal issues may inhibit a child's growth and development, and in some cases, these injuries may be fatal.

While the specific cause of necrotizing enterocolitis is unknown, it most commonly affects children who are born prematurely. NEC has been linked to the use of baby formula that is based on cow's milk. Children with underdeveloped intestines may be unable to process this type of milk correctly, and certain types of formula may cause damage to the intestines. While formula is commonly used at hospitals to provide nutrition for children who are unable to breastfeed, this practice may place premature infants at serious risk of harm.

Baby Formula Injury FAQs

How Common Is NEC?

Necrotizing enterocolitis is rare, and while it only affects around one out of every 10,000 children who are born after a pregnancy reaches full-term, it affects around one in 1,000 babies who are born prematurely. Studies have found that children with very low birth weight (between 1,000 and 1,500 grams, or 2.2. to 3.3 pounds) are much more likely to experience NEC, with around five to 12 percent of these children being affected. In around 20 to 40 percent of cases, surgery is required to treat NEC, and in between 25 and 50 percent of cases, this condition is fatal.

What Types of Baby Formula Are Associated With NEC?

While scientists have not identified the exact causes of necrotizing enterocolitis, one issue that has repeatedly been linked to NEC is the use of cow-milk-based baby formula for premature infants. Human milk is much easier for infants to digest, and it also helps children's bodies fight infections while promoting the growth and development of cells in the intestines. Cow milk, on the other hand, is more difficult to digest, and it may lead to inflammation of the intestines, which may develop into NEC. To prevent this issue, experts have recommended that premature babies be given milk from their mother, other breast milk donors, or formula based on human milk rather than cow's milk.

Multiple studies have linked baby formula based on non-human milk to NEC. These studies have shown that premature infants fed formula based on cow's milk were around six to ten times more likely to develop NEC than infants who were provided with breast milk. The most popular and commonly used brands of baby formula, Enfamil and Similac, are based on cow's milk. These formulas are often used at hospitals, despite the known risks to premature infants.

Are Baby Formula Manufacturers Aware of the Risks of NEC?

Studies showing that baby formula based on cow's milk may be dangerous for premature infants date back several decades. While the manufacturers of Similac, Enfamil, and other cow-milk-based formulas have been aware of these studies, they have not taken any steps to prevent the use of these products for children who may be at risk of NEC. No warnings have been included on the packaging or in the instructions of these products. In fact, certain products, such as Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare and Similac Special Care, have been marketed as safe to be used by children who were born prematurely or with low birth weight.

Contact Our Chicago Infant NEC Injury Attorney

Necrotizing enterocolitis can be a devastating illness that threatens the life of a child. Even if a child survives this illness, they may experience ongoing health issues that will affect them throughout the rest of their life. Parents in these situations may be unsure about who was responsible for this serious illness or the steps they can take to ensure that their child receives the proper care. Newland & Newland, LLP can provide legal help to these parents and determine whether the makers of baby formula that caused NEC can be held responsible for the harm they have caused. To set up a free consultation, contact us today by calling 847-797-8000.

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