Baby formula manufacturers Enfamil and Similac have come under legal pressure after multiple premature newborns who were fed their formula developed potentially fatal infections. The premature infants that were fed formula from these corporations developed a deadly condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Necrotizing enterocolitis is an intestinal infection that inflames and kills cells in the infant’s intestines. For infants who were born premature, NEC can decimate an already underdeveloped gastrointestinal tract. Infants born with health issues like heart defects can also make NEC more potent.
Symptoms of NEC include:
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Bloody stool
- Changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Green vomit
- Inability to gain weight
While human breast milk has been demonstrated to be the most effective source of nutrition for infants, some premature infants are too weak to breastfeed. As a substitute, the hospital or parents may use baby formula as an alternative, mixed in with human breast milk or alone.
That is what happened in the case of Tylea Hundley, who died on January 12 of NEC. According to a ruling and order from the United States District Court of Connecticut, “January 5 to January 11, 2017, doctors at [Yale New Haven Hospital] fed Tylea Similac, sometimes with human breast milk and other times alone.”
The attorney representing the estate of Tylea Hundley, Kevin Ferry, alleges that Enfamil and Similac were negligent in the production and distribution of their premature infant baby formula, “despite knowing for years that their products increased the risk of NEC and death, did not warn of—and did not provide instructions or guidance about how to avoid—those possible outcomes.”
Ferry also alleges that recent scientific data emphasizes that baby formula based on cow milk is especially dangerous to infants.
Following the ruling, the case of Tylea Hundley passed the motion to dismiss stage and began to enter discovery. At this juncture, more than 80 lawsuits have been filed by parents who lost their premature child to NEC, according to the Legal Examiner.