NEC in Babies – Prevention is Key

There aren’t many moments that are as magical as bringing a new baby into the world. From the special moments during pregnancy itself to finally giving birth to your bundle of joy, it’s a time of anticipation and joy.

But it can also be a time of stress! There are a lot of conditions that can affect newborns, many of which you may never have even heard of before.

baby and pregnant mom

However, if you are well educated about potential risks, you can be ready to do your best to prevent them, or at least minimize the risks, for both you and your baby.

NEC in babies is one of those risks that every pregnant mom should know about. The risk only materializes if a baby is premature and is fed on a baby formula based on cow’s milk, so it may not be a condition you need to worry about at all.

But it’s better to be prepared and know how to minimize the risk ahead of time, since your actions can determine the outcome to some degree.

Many hospitals and doctors may not warn you of the dangers unless you ask, so it’s best to self-educate to ensure you’re prepared with the information you need.

nuk simply natural bottle closeup

What is NEC?

NEC stands for Necrotising Enterocolitis, a severe condition that may result in death for premature newborns fed a baby formula based on cow’s milk.

Preemie babies have a very thinly layered intestine. Some of the components in cow’s milk are too heavy for the premature baby’s intestine to handle. Subsequent inflammation and infection can result in a tear in the wall of the intestine.

The condition may require surgical intervention. In addition, if waste from the intestine leaks into the abdomen through the rupture, an infection can set in rapidly, gangrene follows, and the baby’s life is at risk.


Many parents are currently in the process of suing hospitals, doctors, and manufacturers for damages, due to not being informed of the risk of NEC in babies.

John Gomez of Gomez Trial Attorneys Accident & Injury Lawyers, based in San Diego, CA, is an advocate with extensive experience litigating for victims who have suffered severe harm and complications caused by dangerous products.

He mentions “there is a statute of limitations on filing a claim, so if you believe your child suffered harm, including necrotizing enterocolitis, after being fed cow’s-milk based formula, contact the best personal injury attorney near you as soon as possible to preserve your legal right to recovery.”

NEC affects 5-12 percent of very-low-birth-weight infants, leads to surgery in 20-40 percent of cases, and is fatal in 25-50 percent of cases.


Since baby formula based on cow’s milk is responsible for potential inflammation and infection, you can simply refuse that such formulas be given to your baby while in hospital. But make sure you’re proactive about sharing your views!

The moment your premature baby is not breastfeeding, you should discuss the options with your doctor. Unfortunately, many doctors continue to prescribe a baby formula based on cow’s milk. Make it 100% clear that your baby will not be fed this formula under any circumstances.

Ask your doctor about the risk to premature babies, and refuse that these formulas are provided to the baby. Period.

Your doctor can recommend appropriate alternatives, which may include formula that is not based on cow’s milk, or using milk from another mom, once tested and safe. There is no risk of NEC when feeding with breast milk – whether yours or someone else’s.


If there is ever a time in your life when you need to stand up and be firm, this is the time to do it. It’s your right to know all the risks, and you are entitled to decide what food is fed to your newborn.

Thankfully, most mothers of a newborn will never have to worry about dealing with the potential risk of NEC. But being informed of the dangers beforehand will let you be ready with the information you need, if you do need it.

When it comes to your precious bundle of joy, you can never be too prepared for the unexpected.

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