Enfamil lawsuits are legal claims against Mead Johnson Nutrition for failing to warn consumers that its baby formula can cause preterm infants to get necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This serious gastrointestinal illness can result in lifelong complications and even death. Our baby formula lawsuits are pursuing the highest financial settlements possible under the law.
In this article, our mass tort attorneys discuss:
- 1. Does Enfamil cause NEC?
- 2. What is necrotizing enterocolitis?
- 3. Has Enfamil been recalled?
- 4. What is the status of the lawsuits?
- 5. How big will the settlements be?
- 6. Who makes Enfamil?
1. Does Enfamil cause NEC?
Science indicates that premature babies fed cow’s milk-based baby formula such as Enfamil (or Similac) are more likely to get necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) – usually at two-to-six weeks. One study which followed more than 900 preemies showed that:
- Formula-fed premature babies were six to ten times more likely to come down with NEC than preterm infants who drank breast milk.
- Formula-fed premature babies were three times more likely to come down with NEC than preterm infants who drank both breast milk and formula.1
In 2011, various hospitals proclaimed that very premature infants fed human donor breast milk were at a lesser risk for NEC than very premature infants fed bovine milk formula.2 Then in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that premature babies should be given only human milk.3
2. What is necrotizing enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious gastrointestinal bacterial infection that is largely seen in preterm infants. NEC causes inflammation and potentially intestinal tissue death. Doctors fight it with antibiotics and – if necessary – surgery.
NEC may result in severe complications, such as sepsis, intestinal strictures, bowel perforation, development delays, and possibly death. Symptoms of NEC can include such health problems as:
- Difficulty eating and gaining weight
- Diarrhea with blood or dark-colored stools
- Vomit that is tinged yellow or green
- Distended abdomen
- Reduced heart rate and blood pressure
- Shock (in advanced cases)4
3. Has Enfamil been recalled?
No. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recalled Enfamil baby formula despite its packaging lacking any warning label about increased risk of NEC. Enfamil infant formula products remain available today.
4. What is the status of the lawsuits?
Starting in June 2021, parents have been bringing lawsuits against Enfamil maker Mead Johnson & Company for reportedly causing their newborns to get NEC. Typical causes of action in these necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuits are:
- Strict product liability (“defective product”)
- Failure to warn
- Intentional misrepresentation
- Negligent misrepresentation
- Breach of warranty
- Wrongful death lawsuits (if the baby passed away)5
It is probable that all these lawsuits against Mead Johnson will join into a MDL – which stands for multi-district litigation. MDLs help to expedite pretrial and settlement procedures. But unlike class-action lawsuits, the cases in an MDL remain separate. (It is also probable that an MDL will form against the maker of Similac, Abbott Laboratories.)
Note that parents are also bringing medical malpractice lawsuits against health care providers and hospitals where NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurses fed the babies Enfamil.
5. How big will the settlements be?
Litigation on infant formula lawsuits has just started, but plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking the largest settlements possible to cover such compensatory damages as:
- medical expenses
- out-of-pocket costs
- pain and suffering (often the largest expense)
- funeral expenses (if the baby died)
6. Who makes Enfamil?
Enfamil has been manufactured by the American health care company and formula manufacturer Mead Johnson & Company since the 1950s. Mead Johnson was acquired by Reckitt Benckiser in 2017.
Currently, there are nearly twenty Enfamil products – including EnfaCare – geared towards newborns.6
Our injury lawyers offer free consultations and free case evaluations to you and your loved ones. Use our contact form or call us toll-free for a free case review. Our phone number is 877-504-7750.
- Lucas A & Cole TJ (1990). Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis. Lancet 336 (1990). See also Minekawa R, Takeda et al. (2004) Human breast milk suppresses the transcriptional regulation of IL-1beta-induced NF-kappaB signaling in human intestinal cells. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. (November, 2004). See also Theresa JO., et al., Is Mother’s Own Milk Lactoferrin Intake Associated with Reduced Neonatal Sepsis, Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Death? Neonatology (February 2020).
- Formula-fed preemies at higher risk for dangerous GI condition than babies who get donor milk, Science Daily (May 1, 2011)(“Extremely premature babies fed human donor milk are less likely to develop the dangerous intestinal condition necrotizing enterocolitis than babies fed a standard premature infant formula derived from cow’s milk.”).
- Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, Pediatrics (March 2012)(“Lower rates of sepsis and NEC indicate that human milk contributes to the development of the preterm infant’s immature host defense.”)
- See Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. See Jocelyn Shulhan et al, Current Knowledge of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Preterm Infants and the Impact of Different Types of Enteral Nutrition Products, Adv Nutr. (Jan, 2017). See Colaizy, T et al, Impact of Optimized Breastfeeding on the Costs of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Extremely Low Birthweight Infants, Journal of Pediatrics, (2016). Other formulas with cow’s milk include Earth’s Best, Happy Baby, Go & Grow, Gerber, Parent’s Choice, Baby’s Only, Loulouka, Holle, Kendamil, Bobbie, and Lebenswert.
- See, e.g., Miller complaint and Dillard complaint in Madison County Circuit Court, VA.
- See also Primavera Capital Acquires Greater China Business of Mead Johnson from Reckitt Benckiser Group, PR Newswire (June 5, 2021).