Does Baby Formula Cause NEC?

Several studies indicate babies who exclusively drink human-based milk over cow’s-milk formula are less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis.  

In 2011, the Surgeon General issued a report stating that formula feeding is associated with higher rates of necrotizing enterocolitis.  It outlines a number of benefits to breastfeeding babies over formula feeding.

An additional 2011 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions report supports this same conclusion, indicating that premature babies are less likely to develop NEC than babies who drink cow’s milk formula.

Further, a 2016 report in Breastfeeding Medicine concluded that premature babies who received an exclusively human milk-based diet saw significantly lower rates of NEC and mortality. It strongly supports breastfeeding over formula feeding when possible.