MDL PETITION:

There are approximately 25 baby formula lawsuits pending in various federal courts throughout the United States. Recently, a motion to consolidate the cases into an MDL was filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation by the plaintiffs. The defendants did not oppose the motion, but the issue of venue remains in dispute.

Several infant formula lawsuits have previously been filed in the Northern District of Illinois. The parties have suggested several locations for the MDL. These include the District of Connecticut, the Central District of California, and the District of Columbia.

In addition, several consolidated litigation cases in state courts have been created, including a 40-case consolidation that was approved in Madison County, IL.

How many infants are affected by or are at risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)?
According to a 2008 review of the evidence, all newborn infants born preterm (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or born with a low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams, or approximately 5.5 pounds) are at increased risk for NEC. Greater risk is associated with smaller infants or delivery that is more premature.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) estimates that NEC affects approximately 9,000 of the 480,000 preterm infants born each year in the United States.

Necrotizing enterocolitis issues
Points to note about incidence and mortality rates of NEC:

• 90% of babies with NEC are preterm.
• NEC is predominantly a disease of very low birth-weight infants and is most common in babies weighing less than 1000 g, or those that are both preterm and growth-restricted.
• The incidence of NEC is inversely proportional to birth-weight. In general, the age of onset is inversely proportional to gestation; therefore, smaller babies present with NEC more frequently.
• The mortality rate of NEC is 20%–40%, with the highest rate seen among those that require surgery (approximately 50%). Of those who survive, approximately 25% develop long-term sequelae.
• Early or suspected NEC is often difficult to diagnose as the clinical signs and symptoms are often non-specific, as are radiological and laboratory findings