What is NEC?
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a serious condition affecting premature babies that causes an inflammation of the intestinal tissue ultimately killing that tissue. NEC usually develops within weeks after birth. This can result in a hole or perforation of the baby’s intestines. Bacteria may enter the stomach or bloodstream through this perforation, causing conditions such as the following:
- Abdominal infections (such as peritonitis) which may increase the risk of sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection
- Intestinal stricture, a condition which narrows the baby’s intestines and makes it difficult for food to pass through, and which may require surgery to open up the intestine
- Short bowel (or short gut) syndrome, a condition which makes it difficult for the body to absorb fluids and nutrients, and which requires life-long care to ensure adequate nutrition
- Growth failure and developmental delays, requiring close follow-up and monitoring of the child’s growth and development
What Causes NEC?
Infants have weaker digestive systems, and premature babies have weaker immune systems. When a premature baby gets an intestinal infection, the baby’s immune and digestive systems have a hard time fighting it.
There are three main types of infant formula:
- cow milk protein based formulas
- soy-based formula
- protein hydrolysate formulas
Many hospitals use baby formula products which are high-calorie cow milk based products or fortifiers that are designed specifically for premature babies. Examples include Enfamil and Similac. However, in preterm and low birth weight infants, feeding with formula rather than human breast milk results a higher risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis.
Misleading Advertising & False Scientific Claims
As reported by the World Health Organization, “formula milk companies… run advertising that routinely mischaracterizes scientific findings”: “It’s time to stop infant formula marketing practices that endanger children”, 14 March 2022, World Health Organization. As reported by the World Health Organization, “Some of the false claims used by formula milk companies include:
- Formula products with added ingredients improve brain development and immunity
- Formula products are needed after 12 months of age
- That breast milk is inadequate for the nutrition of older infants and children
- That formula keeps babies fuller for longer and therefore helps them sleep
- That the quality of breast milk declines with time
Necrotizing Enterocolitis Class Action Lawyers
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