Digesting Danger

I am a proud father and grandfather. My grandkids, Robby, Goldie, Harrison, and Parker are all under the age of five. It is hard to describe the joy that young kids bring into the world. Watching them grow, learn, and experience life makes me appreciate what is really important. They are our future. However, in our law practice, it is especially hard to see children that are sexually abused, injured, or even killed through the actions of bad people or bad corporate behavior. We are so appalled at this conduct that GoldenbergLaw has developed a specialty part of our practice that is devoted to justice for kids.

Our firm is engaged in pro bono work to advocate for children and in fact, Marlene Goldenberg, one of our partners, has now become a temporary foster parent to two small children. I have advocated over the years against many defective products marketed to children including defective toys, baby equipment, and baby supplements. The result is that some of those products are now off the market or have been modified. I think we are proudest of some of our advocacy where the results have allowed severely injured children to have special trusts to purchase modified homes or fund lifetime care.

One of our newest litigations involves baby formulas such as Enfamil and Similac that have been linked to a horrible gastrointestinal disorder called NEC which affects premature infants. Partner Noah Lauricella has twins that were born prematurely and he and his wife Amy have lived through the challenges of having children born early. Noah has a special appreciation for parents dealing with these issues and will be heading up the NEC cases for our firm.

There is a saying “that you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Parents or Grandparents dealing with injured or abused children need special help. These kids deserve justice to help protect them, get the treatment they need and allow them to live their best lives. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.

For many years, doctors have recommended that babies born prematurely receive their nutrition from cow milk-based baby formula or fortifier. However, studies dating back to 1983 have found that preterm infants exclusively fed cow milk-based formulas are at a significantly higher risk of developing the devastating digestive disease necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

NEC is a serious gastrointestinal illness that mostly affects premature babies. The condition inflames intestinal tissue and can lead to tissue death. Severe NEC can cause a hole to form in a baby’s large or small intestine. Bacteria can then leak through the hole into the abdomen or bloodstream and increase the risk of a life-threatening blood infection called sepsis. Cow milk-based formula is considered a potential cause of NEC. Human milk is easier to digest than other alternatives. Human milk also contains substances that help fight infection and help intestinal cells mature. Studies have consistently found that premature infants who consume human milk in the first days of their life are less likely to get infections such as NEC. Fortunately, nearly half of neonatal intensive care units in the United States are now using human milk fortifiers for preterm nourishment.

How Common Is NEC?

Thousands of babies in the United States develop NEC every year, and hundreds of those babies die due to NEC’s 30% mortality rate. NEC affects between 1 in 2000 and 1 in 4000 births and equates to between 1%-5% of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admissions. NEC occurs in nearly 10% of premature infants.

Nearly 90 percent of babies who get NEC are born prematurely. NEC usually affects babies born be­fore the 37th week of pregnancy, babies who are fed through a tube in the stomach (enteral nutrition), and babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth. The condition usually develops within 2-6 weeks after birth.

Cow Milk-Based Infant Formulas

Cow milk-based infant formulas Enfamil (manufactured by Mead Johnson Nutrition) and Similac (manufactured by Abbott Laboratories) are popular substitutes for human milk. Neither Enfamil nor Similac have warning labels on their products to alert parents of the increased risk to their premature infants of developing NEC if they are fed cow milk-based formulas.

If your premature infant developed NEC after receiving Enfamil or Similac, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll deliver the Gold Standard advocacy you and your child deserve.


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