Elemental Baby Formulas May Cause Serious Injuries New parents can so easily become overwhelmed with trying to do everything the right way for their baby. It’s certainly crucial to get the important things right when it comes to health and safety for your newborn or infant. There are so many of these areas to stay on top of that it can be a full-time job just researching products.

Many parents tend to rely on what their pediatrician or an elemental baby formula manufacturer tells them when it comes to their child’s medical condition and food safety. With so many other issues to worry about, checking behind them to make sure medical malpractice or product liability isn’t a concern is usually the last thing a parent worries about when they feel the information comes from a trusted source. Unfortunately, recommending these special baby formulas may be dangerous for your child.

What is elemental baby formula?

Amino acids form the building blocks of protein required early on for your child’s healthy growth and development. Elemental baby formulas are a type of hypoallergenic infant formula containing individual amino acids. The proteins in these specially created formulas are completely broken down to make them easier to digest by infants and children with allergies to milk or other proteins.

Neocate gained publicity for causing injuries to children with a formula they only sought to change in 2018, though there are three brands to watch for:

  • Elecare
  • Neocate Infant
  • PurAmino Nutramigen AA Lipil

Parents should not assume their baby has an allergy to milk, soy, or gluten that could signal a change in formula before having formal testing conducted by a pediatrician. Even then it may not be a wise switch without further discussion with your child’s healthcare provider. These formulas are only to be used with medical supervision and are typically purchased from pharmacies due to their specific association with aiding a medical need.

The problem with baby formulas like Neocate

Based on what medical research uncovered, parents want to be clear on what they are feeding their protein-allergic child if they do need to move to an elemental formula. Making sure it contains the proper supplements that make up for any deficiencies through the removal of necessary proteins can make all the difference in your child’s long-term health.

It was found that young children with food allergies that require limiting or eliminating dairy and soy from their diet experienced hypophosphatemia. This condition means your child has lower than normal levels of phosphate, which is essential to producing strong bones. Low phosphate levels in the body over an extended period can cause serious health complications.

Hypophosphatemia has its own severe consequences, including:

  • The breakdown of muscle tissue, which can ultimately lead to kidney damage
  • Acute respiratory failure where fluid builds up in the air sacs around your lungs, which can cause death
  • Destruction of red blood cells
  • Heart arrhythmia, which results in not enough blood pumping through your body

Once your child’s bones have become soft, he or she is at risk for developing rickets. Rickets produces debilitating symptoms in your child, such as:

  • Delayed growth or motor skills
  • Enduring pain in the spine, pelvis and legs
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Skeletal deformities such as bowed legs, thickened wrists/ankles, or a protruding breastbone
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal spine curvature

When taking elemental formulas that don’t provide the proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, your child may also end up with weak bones that can easily fracture.

Solely recommending elemental baby formulas is risky

A study was conducted of children who were fed a diet of Neocate alone, and of 51 children identified, most experienced complex illnesses as a result. In fact, 94% of those cases showed children to have skeletal fractures, rickets, and under-mineralization. The study also showed that these children improved when they were switched to another formula or were given a phosphate supplement.

Elemental formulas may still remove the calcium and phosphorus needed to build healthy bones despite being marketed as providing complete nutrition. As such, your pediatrician should add supplements to make up for these shortfalls that can lead to serious health consequences. Failure to do so can eventually harm your child. Once that injury has occurred, it may be necessary for your child to take medication to correct the low phosphorus levels to strengthen his or her bones.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202.463.1999.