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A Georgia mom recently filed a new baby formula lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She filed as a representative for her baby boy, who is now deceased. She brings her complaint against baby formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, Inc.

Premature Baby Fed Similac Formula Develops NEC

According to her complaint, the plaintiff’s baby was born on November 5, 2008. He was preterm at 36 weeks with a low birth weight of 2.530 kg and a length of 44.5 cm.

Shortly after he was born, doctors sent him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for respiratory distress. He was treated for presumed sepsis and given oxygen. He eventually stabilized.

The plaintiff tried to pump her own breast milk, but she couldn’t produce enough. As an alternative, health care providers and staff provided the baby with NeoSure infant formula, a brand of Similac manufactured by Abbott.

On November 6, 2008, the baby seemed to be doing okay, so doctors continued to use NeoSure. He consumed the formula from November 7th through November 12th. On November 13, 2008, he developed bloody stools and was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious intestinal infection.

Premature Babies Vulnerable to NEC When Fed Cow’s Milk-Based Formula

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a bacterial disease that destroys the wall of the intestine and can create cracks or gaps that allow bad bacteria to leak into the abdomen, worsening the infection and sometimes, leading to death.

NEC is rare overall, but studies have found that it’s more common in premature infants fed cow’s-milk-based infant formula. Scientists think this is because premature infants have underdeveloped digestive systems that are more vulnerable to damage from cow’s milk.

Whereas human milk is protective, reducing inflammation and bacterial invasion, cow’s milk may encourage the proliferation of damaging bacteria.

Several studies have linked cow’s milk formula to NEC when given to premature babies. In a 2019 Cochrane review, for instance, researchers found that feeding premature infants with formula increases rates of growth during the hospital stay, “but is associated with a higher risk of developing the severe gut disorder called ‘necrotizing enterocolitis.’”

Baby Dies of NEC While Mom Unaware of Dangers Associated with Infant Formula

Following his diagnosis of NEC, the plaintiff’s baby underwent an exploratory laparotomy. Doctors determined he had two bowel perforation sites with severe hemorrhagic necrosis of the bowel segment in between perforations. Surgeons addressed these issues, but after the operation, the baby got worse.

He suffered from low blood pressure and low heart rate, and was bleeding from all IV sites. Doctors tried to resuscitate him, but his condition continued to deteriorate. He was pronounced dead at 8 days old. An autopsy confirmed that his death was caused by NEC, which led to septic shock and resulted in his sudden passing.

At the time of his death, his mother—the plaintiff—was unaware of the fact that he had been fed cow’s milk products that could cause or substantially contribute to the development of NEC and ultimately, to his death.

She seeks compensatory damages for medical costs, lost income, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

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