Colorado Couple Blames Similac Infant Formula for Son’s Ongoing Health Issues

A Nevada couple recently filed a new Similac infant formula lawsuit against manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, Inc. They claim that their baby son suffered from serious injuries after consuming Similac NeoSure formula. They seek compensatory and punitive damages.

Baby Fed NeoSure Formula Develops NEC, Requiring Three Surgeries

According to the complaint, the couple’s baby was born prematurely at 23 weeks and 5 days on July 6, 2018, at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. He weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce at birth and was therefore by definition a low-birth-weight infant.

The baby was admitted to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at the hospital and was immediately fed NeoSure. He then developed life-threatening necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a dangerous and sometimes deadly intestinal disease that infects and damages the intestines.

Because of this condition, the baby had to undergo three immediate surgeries. Plaintiffs state that NEC caused him to suffer failure to thrive, as well as severe and ongoing developmental delays, difficult bowel movements, and constipation. He endures significant suffering to this day.

His parents never knew that a cow’s milk-based formula like NeoSure could increase the risk of their baby developing NEC. They only discovered long afterward that several studies had linked such formulas to an increased risk of NEC in premature infants.

Studies Link Cow’s Milk Infant Formula to a Greater Risk of NEC

As far back as 1990, a prospective multi-center study on 926 preterm infants found that NEC was 6 to 10 times more common in exclusively cow’s milk-based formula-fed babies than in those fed breast milk alone, and three times more common than in those fed formula plus breast milk.

Many other studies since then have come up with similar findings, with scientists theorizing that premature babies have underdeveloped intestinal symptoms that require mother’s milk for protection. Certain compounds in cow’s milk-based formula, on the other hand, may be able to damage immature intestines, leading to NEC.

Yet despite this evidence, Abbott and other formula makers have continued to market their cow-based products as equally safe alternatives to breast milk, while promoting certain products as necessary to the growth and development of premature infants.

Plaintiffs Say Defendants Ignored Evidence Linking Formula to NEC

The plaintiffs point to several instances showing Abbott as ignoring scientific evidence linking cow’s milk products with NEC. They note that Abbott has attempted to “hook” parents on formula by offering free samples and other blandishments in baskets given to parents in hospitals and medical clinics.

The company also—while stating that it supports, educates, and encourages mothers to breastfeed for as long as possible—has advertised its products as being similar to breast milk, using the phrase “like breastmilk” in magazine articles and ads. It has claimed its products were preferred by physicians, featuring claims such as “1st choice of Doctors” on its product labels, including the one for NeoSure. And it has encouraged parents to use NeoSure for their premature infants, particularly on its “formula finder” web page.

The plaintiffs bring counts of negligent products liability, strict products liability, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive trade practices.