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Milk powder for baby in bottle and measuring spoon on table
Grewal Law, PLLC
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Many parents are unaware of the link between their premature child receiving that cow’s milk based baby formula and bowel surgery from: Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).  NEC is a serious and sometimes life-threatening gastrointestinal disorder that appears most often in premature and low birth weight infants.  In infants diagnosed with NEC, as many as twenty to fifty percent (20% – 50%), of these children will end up with a surgical laparotomy – where a portion of dead (necrotic) and/or perforated intestinal tissue is resected. http://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/1/80/4566583 These children may end up with an ostomy tube as a means of expelling waste from their bodies and have a higher incidence of long-term neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

Suprisingly, it has been known by pediatricians and neonatologists for as long as thirty (30) years that cow’s milk based baby formula, the primary market shareholders being Enfamil (Mead Company) and Similac (Abbot Laboratories – J & J), is associated with a six (6) to ten (10) fold increase in the rates of NEC in premature and low birth weight infants.   Human based milk formula counters this problem.  A company named “Prolacta” has been in business since 2006, operating through thirty-one (31) human milk based formula milk banks around the United States.

The initial signs and symptoms of NEC, caused and/or promoted by the bacteria in unpasteurized cow’s milk formula, include abdominal tenderness, swelling (distension), poor feeding, lethargy and vomiting.  Worsening symptoms include: prominent abdominal distension, severe abdominal tenderness, thrombocytopenia and metabolic acidosis.  If left untreated, NEC can progress to systemic infection (sepsis), hypotension, metabolic acidosis, shock, respiratory and cardiac arrest, brain bleeding, intra-ventricular hemorrhage and even death.

The FDA does not require separate testing and approval for these types of formulas because they are classified as a “food” items and not as regulated “drugs” per statute.  Perhaps this has hindered knowledge and reporting over the years, but lawsuits are now underway to assist these children and families. Several parents sue makers or formula that allegedly caused premature infants to develop NEC | Madison – St. Clair Record (madisonrecord.com)  In any event, either way, if a premature child ended up with gastric surgery as an infant, it may be wise to order the neonatal medical records to examine this potential cause.

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