SimplyThick is an infant formula thickener that contains Xanthan gum. Unfortunately, this ingredient has been linked to necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening intestinal disease that often requires surgical treatment.
What is SimplyThick?
SimplyThick is a thickening agent that is used to make liquids easier to swallow. Today, it is marketed toward children and adults with swallowing disorders or throat trauma. However, it was originally marketed for use in babies who need help swallowing breast milk or infant formula and keeping it down without constantly spitting up. SimplyThick has been on the market since 2001 and it is sold in individual packets or 64-ounce dispenser bottles.
FDA Warning: Do Not Feed SimplyThick to Premature Infants
On May 20, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that SimplyThick should not be given to premature infants (born before 37 weeks) due to the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The agency received 15 reports of NEC, including two deaths, linked to SimplyThick.
Unfortunately, infants continued to be injured. In 2012, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study describing 22 cases of NEC among babies who were fed SimplyThick. One of the babies was not premature. This led the FDA to update warnings that NEC could occur in infants of any age who were fed SimplyThick. Click here to read more.
The manufacturers of SimplyThick are facing at least 20 lawsuits, including 10 wrongful death lawsuits, involving NEC. Plaintiffs allege that NEC is caused by Xanthan gum, an ingredient in SimplyThick. Although researchers have been warning about safety risks of Xanthan gum in infants since 2004, manufacturers of SimplyThick failed to investigate the health risks, warn consumers, or pull products off shelves.
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a disease that occurs when the lining of the intestine becomes severely inflamed, causing death (necrosis) of intestinal tissue. It can rapidly cause holes in the intestines that allow bacteria to leak into the abdomen and cause infection. The condition has a mortality rate of about 25%. Treatment typically involves surgery to removed diseased portions of the intestines.
- Bloated stomach
- Greenish-tinged vomiting
- Frequent vomiting
- Low energy (lethargy)
- Bloody stools
- Problems feeding