Formula manufacturers such as Similac and Enfamil create calorie-rich cow milk-based products designed specifically for premature babies. However, their product labels fail to list warnings, instructions, or guidelines regarding possible necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) risks for premature babies. Often, hospitals and NICUs use these cow milk-based products to supplement infant feedings. Sadly, premature infants are at an increased risk of developing NEC when fed these products.
Today, parents of premature babies that have suffered severe injuries or died from NEC complications are filing lawsuits against formula manufacturers for failure to warn of the potentially deadly risks.
Infants born before 32 weeks (prematurely) are susceptible to serious health issues. NEC ensues when a premature baby’s intestinal wall begins to die for lack of oxygen– the result, the baby’s stomach becomes irritated, swollen, and infected, causing tears of the intestines and colon.
Approximately 5-7% of premature babies develop NEC; that number increases to 1 in 10 when a baby weighs less than 3.3 pounds. The most notable risk factors of an infant developing NEC are low birth weight, prematurity, and formula feeding.
What are the symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis?
Typically, NEC occurs during the first two weeks after birth, frequently in formula-fed babies in hospital nurseries. Symptoms of NEC can include:
- Abdominal distention (a bloated belly that is larger and harder than usual)
- Difficulty maintaining normal body temperature
- Constipation, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Intolerance to or difficulty feeding
- Black or bloody stool
- Lethargy or excessive tiredness
- A rapid heart rate