Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a very serious medical condition that occurs when intestinal tissue begins to die. This disease primarily affects infants, especially those who are born prematurely or who have been exposed to toxic baby formula.
Stage 1 NEC is the first part of the disease and is generally characterized by symptoms like vomiting, irregular biomarkers, and a distended or bulging abdomen. If you notice any symptoms of this condition, it is critical to seek emergency medical attention immediately. Without treatment, necrotizing enterocolitis could be fatal.
The Stages of Necrotizing Enterocolitis
Necrotizing enterocolitis is an aggressive and dangerous disease that affects a child’s intestines, causing severe inflammation. It most often develops in premature infants, or infants born at less than 37 weeks. This condition is relatively rare, affecting about 1 out of every 1,000 babies.
There are three stages of necrotizing enterocolitis, which are based on the progression of the disease. Stage 1 NEC is the beginning stage and is characterized by clinical symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, and fluctuating body temperature.
Stage 2 NEC occurs when doctors are able to confirm the presence of the condition using radiographic findings. The infant may develop more severe symptoms like metabolic acidosis and low blood platelet counts.
Stage 3 NEC is the most advanced stage of the disease and is divided into two parts based on whether the bowel has perforated or develops a hole. If the bowel is intact, it is known as Stage 3A. Symptoms may include all of those in Stages 1 and 2, but also additional complications like blood clotting and respiratory arrest.
If the bowel perforates, the condition reaches Stage 3B and the child will require emergency surgery. This stage includes all of the same symptoms as the previous stages as well as pneumoperitoneum, or the presence of air or gas in the abdominal cavity.
Symptoms of Stage One Necrotizing Enterocolitis
When it comes to necrotizing enterocolitis, quick detection and treatment is key. Without prompt medical care, a sick infant can develop liver problems, dangerous infections like sepsis, and long-term complications with his or her gastrointestinal system. In many cases, NEC is fatal.
If you notice any symptoms of NEC, seek emergency medical care as soon as you can. Common symptoms of Stage 1 NEC include the following.
- Unstable body temperature
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Abnormal heartburn
- A distended abdomen
- Blood in the vomit or stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Slow heartbeat
- Unstable breathing
- Fluctuating blood pressure
How to Treat Stage One Necrotizing Enterocolitis
The treatment for necrotizing enterocolitis depends on its clinical stage. When a child is in Stage 1 NEC, medical professionals focus on providing supportive care for the child and his or her gastrointestinal system.
For example, the child may be fed via a feeding tube in order to give the intestines time to rest. The doctors will carefully assess the child’s symptoms to ensure that the condition has not progressed to Stage 2 or 3.
They may take blood samples to check for infections and administer IV antibiotics as necessary. Additionally, the child’s medical team will likely monitor his or her abdomen for distension, sensitivity, and swelling. If the condition gets worse, the child may need emergency surgery to remove dead tissue and perform a colostomy.
The prognosis for NEC depends on how early you seek treatment. Many children with NEC die from the disease, especially if the bowel perforates or if they develop an infection. However, early and aggressive treatment can help your child avoid these dangerous complications.
Common Causes of Necrotizing Enterocolitis
No one knows for certain what causes NEC. Many factors can contribute to this condition, such as the presence of dangerous bacteria, immune system imbalance, and low blood flow. Additionally, NEC is most prevalent among premature or ill children.
Many parents have reported that their children developed NEC after ingesting toxic, bovine-based baby formula. In fact, premature infants who drink formula that is made with cow’s milk are up to 10 times more likely to develop NEC than their counterparts.
Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson and Similac manufacturer Abbott Laboratories have been linked to this dangerous risk. These companies have voluntarily recalled many of the formulas that may lead to NEC in babies.
Some of the brands that are associated with NEC include, but are not limited to, the following.
- Similac Special Care
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac NeoSure
- Similac Alimentum
- Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
- Similac Special Care 20
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
- Enfacare Powder
- Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
- Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
- Enfamil Premature 24 Cal
- Enfamil Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein
Did Your Child Develop Necrotizing Enterocolitis? You May Qualify for Litigation
NEC is a serious, painful condition that can have a major impact on a family. Children can suffer from severe symptoms and even die as a result of the disease. Watching their children struggle with NEC can take a significant emotional toll on parents. Treatment for NEC can also total thousands of dollars.
Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories are currently facing lawsuits from families of children who developed NEC after drinking their formula. These lawsuits allege that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn parents of the dangers of drinking this type of formula and are therefore liable for the damages that the children suffered.
By filing a lawsuit, you could recover financial compensation to pay for medical care, pain and suffering, and many other damages associated with your child’s condition. While no amount of money could make up for this painful experience, a settlement provides a pathway to recovery for your family.
If you suspect that your child became sick after drinking formula from one of these companies, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. You may qualify for a baby formula lawsuit if you meet the following criteria.
- Your child was fed a toxic Similac or Enfamil formula.
- Your child was diagnosed with NEC after being fed this toxic formula.
An attorney currently representing clients in baby formula litigation can carefully evaluate your case and determine whether you are eligible for a claim. After seeking medical care for your child, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.