Baby Formula Lawsuits

For expectant parents, the birth of their child should be a time of joy and celebration. But when babies are born prematurely, they face added health risks—and parents face added stress. One stress parents of premature babies likely don’t expect is that the formula their babies are fed could be harmful.

That is exactly what national class action lawsuits against baby formula manufacturers Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson are alleging. Read on to know what people should know about lawsuits over baby formula and whether they are eligible for damages from the manufacturers.

Cow Milk-Based Formula Linked to Dangerous Digestive Disease in Newborns

As far back as 1990, research had begun to connect the dots between common baby formula—based on cow’s milk—and a dangerous health condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Here’s what studies revealed over the past few decades:

  • NEC is as much as ten times more common in preterm infants fed formula exclusively when compared to those fed breast milk alone.

  • Premature babies fed exclusively mother’s milk, donor milk, and human milk fortifiers were 90% less likely to develop dangerous NEC than those fed cow’s milk formula.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

NEC is a common disease that affects the intestinal tract, causing it to become inflamed, die, and slough off, and it’s most often seen in infants, especially those born preterm. Common symptoms include:

  • Inability to digest food

  • Bloating

  • Swelling, swelling, and discoloration of the stomach

  • Diarrhea

  • Pain when the abdomen is touched

  • Lethargy

  • Vomiting greenish-yellow liquid

  • Inability to maintain a normal temperature

In grave cases, babies affected by NEC may require emergency surgery to repair holes or perforations in their intestinal walls. The smaller the baby, the higher their risk for NEC, and it’s estimated that about 2% of all premature babies are affected in a given year.

As many as 40% of babies with NEC will die from the disease.

Baby Formula NEC Class Action Lawsuit

Starting in 2020, parents of premature babies who developed NEC began filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of certain Similac and Enfamil baby formulas, alleging that the companies, Abbott and Mead Johnson, respectively, failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their cow milk-based infant formulas.

The brands and products in question include:

Abbott Laboratories

  • Similac NeoSure Formula

  • Similac Special Care 20

  • Similac Special Care 24

  • Similac Special Care 24 High Protein

  • Similac Special Care 30

  • Similac Alimentum

  • Similac Alimentum Expert Care

  • Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier

  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Powder

  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Concentrated Liquid

  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid

Mead Johnson

  • Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare Infant Formula

  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal High Protein

  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal with Iron

  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 30 Cal with Iron

  • Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 20 Cal with Iron

  • Enfamil 24 Cal Infant Formula

  • Enfamil DHA & ARA Supplement

  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder

  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid

  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid High Protein

  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein

In early 2022, a court established multidistrict litigation (MDL), including the NEC-related lawsuits over Similac and Enfamil, and a judge identified a dozen cases for so-called bellwether trials, which are common in large complex litigation. Bellwether cases are used to help determine how jurors respond to testimony and evidence that is likely to be repeated throughout the remaining cases.

The judge also established a schedule for when the bellwether cases would begin (2024) if settlement talks in 2023 do not prove fruitful.

Baby Formula Recalls

Neither Similac nor Enfamil has been recalled over the alleged connection between cow’s milk formulas and NEC, and the February 2022 recall of some types of formula over bacterial infection (and subsequent baby formula shortage) is unrelated to the NEC lawsuits.

Other Baby Formula Lawsuits

Another baby formula manufacturer, PBM Nutritionals, agreed to a settlement over claims that its product labels are misleading and that its containers don’t make as much formula as the labels indicate. PBM makes formulas sold under store brands for Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other generics.

Contact an Expert Attorney

If your premature baby was fed cow milk-based formula or fortifiers and developed NEC, your family may be entitled to compensation as part of a major national lawsuit that’s currently underway. Contact the Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock to learn more.


The Lancet, Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis. (1990). Retrieved from

The Journal of Pediatrics, An exclusively human milk-based diet is associated with a lower rate of necrotizing enterocolitis than a diet of human milk and bovine milk-based products. (2010). Retrieved from

The National Institutes of Health, Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). (2021). Retrieved from