Why Are People Suing Baby Formula Companies? (Plus FAQ)

New parents typically have a lot of questions when caring for a newborn. You may wonder what medications are safe, whether or not your child is developing according to expected milestones, and what foods are safe for them to eat. Whether you feed your child primarily using formula or you supplement breastfeeding with formula, you may have many questions about the latest lawsuits. Here are a few essential things to know about the Similac and Enfamil lawsuits.

Is Baby Formula Safe?

In general, yes. The baby formula lawsuits don’t mean that all baby formula is unsafe. In fact, most formulas available today are safe for most babies. But, as with anything, parents have a right to understand any potential risks of the products they choose to use with their children. One such product is baby formula.

Babies with unique health concerns or still developing digestive systems may require a better formula. Organic baby formula or products designed specifically for the unique needs of preemies may be an option for parents. Parents of children with special healthcare needs should also work with their physicians on choosing the best and safest products.

What are the Baby Formula Lawsuit Claims?

Parents and researchers claim that certain brands of formula lead to premature babies developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This gastrointestinal condition leads to inflammation and damage to the baby’s intestines. The condition is most common among premature babies who don’t yet have a fully developed intestinal tract. While many of the symptoms of NEC are short-term, it’s possible to have life-long issues. NEC can lead to permanent intestinal scarring, bowel perforation, short gut syndrome, and even brain injury.

The lawsuits claim that baby formula manufacturers knew of the potential risks and failed to notify customers. They claim that product labels and warnings aren’t descriptive enough. They also point to the fact that, with even more research connecting cow’s milk and NEC in premature babies, manufacturers still haven’t made important changes to labels. 

What Does the Research Show?

Experts have researched the correlation between milk and newborn health for many decades. In the 1990s, researchers found that premature babies who were fed cow milk were much more likely to develop NEC. Parents and lawyers claim that two of the biggest baby formula manufacturers, Similac and Enfamil, failed to warn parents of this risk. Some of their products contain cow’s milk, which can increase a premature baby’s chance of developing NEC by as much as two to three times.

NEC most commonly occurs in the first two weeks of a premature baby’s life. It’s also primarily present in babies who were mostly fed formula rather than a mix of formula and breastfed.

Who Can File a Baby Formula Lawsuit?

Any parent who fed a premature baby one of the included formula products and whose baby then developed NEC symptoms may qualify to file a lawsuit. While an official NEC diagnosis isn’t required for filing a lawsuit, there must be proof of related symptoms. Even if you have suspicions of NEC, you should notify your physician and consider talking with a lawyer. Notifying your physician as soon as possible can get your baby the care they need, potentially limiting its effects. Additionally, the more parents that come forward about the potential correlation, the better chance that future premature babies won’t also be affected.

You can also notify the potential harm and correlation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online or by phone. Once you report the potential connection, consider reaching out to a lawyer so that you can consider your legal options.

Why File a Baby Formula Lawsuit?

In addition to drawing light to a bigger problem, filing a baby formula NEC lawsuit could also help you and your family deal with the consequences. If your child was diagnosed with NEC, they likely have and will continue to incur medical bills. You likely had to take time off work to care for your baby. In some cases, permanent or long-term effects of NEC may prevent you from returning to work. Filing a baby formula lawsuit can help you recover damages related to medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and diminished earning capacity.

An increasing amount of evidence points to a potential correlation between cow-based formula and premature babies developing NEC. While filing a lawsuit may not reverse the damages done, it can help you and your family deal with your baby’s care. Coming forward is also important to protecting future families with premature babies from also experiencing NEC.

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