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A Texas mom has filed a new Similac baby formula lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff claims that after her preterm infant was fed Similac formula in the hospital, he developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening and potentially deadly intestinal disease.

She brings counts of strict liability and failure to warn and seeks compensatory damages.

Preterm Infant Undergoes Multiple Surgeries Because of NEC

According to the complaint, the infant was born prematurely at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, on April 19, 2015. Following his birth, his mother successfully pumped her own breast milk for her baby’s nutrition. The baby was fed this breast milk or donor breast milk from the day of life until May 14, 2015, when doctors added a human milk fortifier to increase his intake to 22 calories per ounce.

The next day, on May 15, 2020, doctors increased his feeds to 24 calories per ounce, again by adding human milk fortifier to his diet. Then on May 22, 2015, they added his first Similac NeoSure preterm formula, a cow’s milk-based product.

On May 28, 2015, at 1:00 a.m., the infant’s feeds were stopped due to recurrent episodes of vomiting and a significant increase in his abdominal girth—both symptoms of NEC. He was diagnosed with NEC that same day and forced to undergo an exploratory laparotomy, resulting in the resection of half of his small intestine and the placement of an ostomy.

The baby had to go through a second surgery for anastomosis (cross-connection) of his intestinal tract on July 7, 2015. Shortly after his discharge from Methodist Dallas Medical Center, he had to go to Children’s Medical Center Dallas where he was forced to undergo another operation to treat the complications from his first two NEC surgeries.

Today, the baby suffers from short-bowel syndrome because of his extensive surgical history. This is a condition in which the body is unable to properly absorb enough nutrients from the foods consumed because there is not enough small intestine to do so.

He is also underweight, suffers from incontinence, and will require gastrointestinal follow-up care for the rest of his life.

Defendant Boasts About Its Preterm Infant Formula

The plaintiff states that at the time her infant was diagnosed with NEC, she had no idea that cow’s milk-based formula—such as Similac Neosure—could increase the risk of NEC.

Indeed, many parents are caught by surprise when they discover this. And no wonder, when companies like Abbott advertise their products as specifically designed for premature infants.

On the Similac NeoSure web page, for instance, the copy reads: “Similac NeoSure is complete nutrition for babies born prematurely.” The company also boasts that this product is the “#1 premature infant formula brand” and the “#1 brand fed in the NICU.”

Similac NeoSure web page makes these statements even though several scientific studies have shown that cow’s milk formula increases the risk of NEC in premature infants. As far back as 1990, researchers reported that in exclusively formula-fed babies, NEC was 6-10 times more common than in those fed breast milk alone and 3 times more common than in those who received formula plus breast milk.

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