The well-known infant formula Enfamil has recently been the subject of a growing wave of product liability lawsuits filed in courts around the country. These Enfamil lawsuits have been prompted by recent medical evidence establishing that formulas made from cow milk (like Enfamil) are actually dangerous for premature babies because they significantly increase the risk of developing a deadly infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
The company that makes Enfamil, Mead Johnson Nutrition, has known about the evidence linking its formula to NEC in premature babies. However, Mead Johnson has refused to include any warning on its product labeling for Enfamil and even marketed it as safe for preemies. Parents of premature babies who developed NEC from Enfamil and died or were permanently harmed are now holding Mead Johnson accountable and seeking financial compensation for their loss.
Enfamil is Dangerous for Premature Infants
Enfamil is the leading brand of infant formula in the U.S. Enfamil is manufactured by Mead Johnson, an international health product company headquartered in Chicago. Mead Johnson makes a wide range of different infant formula products under the Enfamil brand name. Almost all Enfamil formula products are made from cow milk.
It has recently been recognized by the scientific community that infant formulas made from cow milk are potentially dangerous for premature babies. Decades of scientific research and clinical studies have shown that premature infants who are fed with bovine formulas such as Enfamil are 10 times more likely to develop a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
NEC is a type of gastrointestinal infection caused by very aggressive and dangerous bacteria that can infect the intestinal wall tissue in young infants. What makes NEC particularly dangerous is that the bacteria can rapidly eat away at the intestinal wall tissue causing necrosis and eventually leading to a hole or perforation in the intestine. This can allow harmful bacteria usually contained in the gastrointestinal tract to leak out and infect the abdominal cavity. This eventually leads to a systemic bloodstream infection and death.
The overall mortality rate for NEC is close to 20%, but for very young, small, underdeveloped preemies the mortality rate is much higher. For premature babies less than 1500 grams in birthweight, NEC has a 50% mortality rate. For preemies weighing under 1000 grams the mortality rate is nearly 100%. Even when NEC is not fatal, it can result in permanent health complications.
Scientific Evidence Linking Enfamil to NEC
It has long been understood that NEC is a condition that is closely linked to infant formula and almost never occurs in breastfed babies. The first clinical study on the link between NEC in premature infants and formulas made from cow’s milk date back to the early 1990s. Over the last decade, scientific evidence has conclusively proven that bovine formulas can cause NEC in premature infants.
Several studies have found that feeding Enfamil or similar infant formulas to premature babies makes them 10 times more likely to develop NEC. This has prompted prominent public health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General to warn the public about the dangers of feeding premature infants with Enfamil or other bovine formulas.
Mead Johnson’s Failure to Warn About the Risk of NEC
Mead Johnson has been fully aware of the medical evidence showing that its Enfamil products significantly increase the risk of NEC in premature infants. Despite having knowledge of this potential danger, however, Mead Johnson has never included any type of warning about NEC and premature infants on the product labeling for Enfamil.
Not only has Mead Johnson failed to include any type of warning on the product labeling for Enfamil, it aggressively marketed Enfamil as a safe alternative to breast milk and mislead doctors and consumers. Mead Johnson has refused to include a warning label about NEC on Enfamil because they don’t want to hurt the marketability of the product as a safe alternative to breast milk. Mead Johnson’s failure to warn about NEC in premature infants is at the heart of the legal claims in the Enfamil lawsuits being filed against the company.
Mead Johnson’s failure to warn about NEC in premature infants is at the heart of the legal claims in the Enfamil lawsuits being filed against the company. Around 50 infant formula NEC lawsuits were filed in 2021 and many more are expected to be filed this year. These Enfamil lawsuits are asserting product liability tort claims against Mead Johnson based on negligent failure to warn and strict product liability.
Most of the Enfamil lawsuits are being filed in Illinois state court because this is Mead Johnson’s home jurisdiction. Other Enfamil cases are being filed in federal courts around the country. As the number of Enfamil lawsuits grows in 2022, we could see consolidation into a new Enfamil “class-action” MDL.
What is the Potential Settlement Value for Enfamil Lawsuits?
There have been no verdicts or settlements in any Enfamil NEC lawsuits at this point as we are still in the early stages of this developing litigation. This makes a definitive value estimate hard, but we can make an educated guess based on recent payouts in medical malpractice cases in which NEC in a premature infant was the primary injury.
The average verdict or settlement payout in a sampling of recent malpractice lawsuits for NEC in premature infants was around $3.5 million. The median awarded in these NEC cases was $1.3 million. These values are probably lower than the potential settlement or verdict amounts we could see in Enfamil NEC lawsuits. The defendants in the NEC malpractice cases were doctors or nurses who probably made honest mistakes. These types of defendants get much more sympathy from juries than big companies (like Mead Johnson).
Contact Our Enfamil NEC Lawyers Today
The product liability lawyers at Miller & Zois are actively seeking Enfamil NEC lawsuits from parents of premature infants who were fed with Enfamil (or another cow milk-based formula) and subsequently developed NEC.