If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard about the growing number of lawsuits against Abbott regarding its cow milk-based infant formula products. Necrotizing enterocolitis and free fatty acids are among the dangers associated with cow milk-based infant formula products. But did you know that there are also humanized formulas available? And if you’re a parent of a premature baby, you may want to consider a humanized formula as a safer, more natural option.
The use of cow milk-based infant formula products has been linked to a greater risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The condition is caused by bacteria that invade the infant’s small intestine and cause inflammation. This can lead to perforations in the colon walls, allowing harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This can cause severe infections and even permanent health issues.
Two of the most commonly used cow milk-based infant formulas are Similac and Enfamil. These brands are manufactured by Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories, and together they account for more than 80% of the premature baby formula market. The companies have been aggressively marketing these products in recent years, despite the fact that there is a growing body of research pointing to the potential dangers.
Necrotizing enterocolitis is an extremely dangerous gastrointestinal disease that can lead to death in premature infants. Many parents have filed lawsuits against Similac and Enfamil because they failed to warn them of the increased risk of this disease.
Unbound free fatty acids
The composition of unbound free fatty acids in cow milk-derived infant formulas may have a major impact on the intestinal health of infants. The composition of bovine milk fat is primarily comprised of C16:0 fatty acids in the sn-2 position. In one study, an infant formula with a mixture of different fats was shown to reduce the formation of faecal fatty acid soaps and improve faecal consistency. Faecal soaps are associated with changes in the composition and activity of the gut microbiota.
The distribution of fat globules in infant formulas is different from that in human milk, and the increased content of fat may affect fat digestion in the intestinal tract. Fat globules were significantly smaller in size following intestinal digestion. Furthermore, intestinal digestion occurs at a higher pH than gastric digestion, which likely helps to dissociate casein micelles from the fat globule surface, reducing the size of lipid droplets.
The fatty acids in cow milk-based infant formulations are composed of a combination of different oils, including vegetable oil, milk fat, and fish oil. This is done to mimic the composition of human milk. Despite the addition of fish oil, these formulas may still be inferior to human milk. This is because human milk is composed of more C18:3 and C20:2 fatty acids.
Increased risk of NEC in premature infants
Premature infants exposed to cow milk-based infant formula products are at a significantly increased risk of developing NEC. Unfortunately, most of these children will experience long-term health problems. As a result, manufacturers of cow milk-based formula products must be held accountable for putting innocent children at risk. Fortunately, there are many ways to pursue compensation.
A 1990 study published in The Lancet found that the use of cow milk formula increased the risk of NEC by up to 10 times. When the infant was breastfed alone, there was no increase in the risk. Those who were fed a mixture of breast milk and formula had the same risk.
While NEC is a rare condition, it is extremely dangerous for premature infants. It develops in the intestinal wall and can spread to other organs. It is highly contagious, and it can cause severe neurological impairment. One study reported that 45% of survivors were at risk for cerebral palsy by the time they reached 20 months of age. Further, 36% of neonates with NEC had cognitive and psychomotor impairments.
Humanized formulas as an alternative to cow milk-based formula
Humanized infant formula products are made from ingredients that mimic the composition of human milk. These products are designed to meet the nutritional needs of specific populations of infants, including those with cow milk allergies, prematurity, or metabolic abnormalities. However, some of these products have been associated with side effects and are not recommended for all infants.
If you’re looking for a safe and affordable alternative to cow milk-based formula, consider contacting a local community action agency or United Way. They can connect you with a humanized infant formula company. Another option is to contact a charity that donates breast milk, such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. This organization gives donated breast milk to families in need.
Many formula manufacturers have made changes to the composition of their products to match the composition of human milk. The resulting formulas may be more compatible with breast milk, and the same principles apply to soy-based formulas.