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What Is Hypophosphatemia?

Select Justice
October 4, 2021

Over recent years, many parents of infants added a new word to their vocabularies: hypophosphatemia. This serious condition is caused by low levels of phosphate in the blood. The effects of hypophosphatemia can range from mild (muscle weakness) to serious (unexplained broken bones, comas, and death). Many parents of infants were shocked to discover that Neocate — a type of formula often recommended by medical professionals for children who suffer from soy and dairy allergies — is related to the development of hypophosphatemia. 

In a healthy person, blood phosphorus levels range from 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL. In a person suffering from hypophosphatemia, blood phosphorus levels are lower than normal. Hypophosphatemia can be mild (with blood phosphate levels ranging from 2 to 2.5 mg/dL0, moderate (with blood phosphate levels ranging from 1 to 2 mg/dL), or severe (with blood phosphate levels under 1 mg/dL).

Some people who are living with hypophosphatemia are asymptomatic and may be unaware of their condition. Even if symptoms are not immediately apparent, it’s important that the condition is identified and treated to mitigate potential long-term health effects. 

Hypophosphatemia Symptoms

Possible symptoms of hypophosphatemia include: 

  • Weakening of bones
  • Softening of bones
  • Muscle weakness, pain, and depletion
  • Numbness
  • Reflex issues
  • Blood issues
  • Changes in mental state
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure

Hypophosphatemia can almost always be linked to an underlying cause. For many babies and toddlers in recent years, the development of the condition has been directly linked to Neocate baby formula. 

Acute Vs. Chronic Hypophosphatemia


To treat hypophosphatemia, healthcare providers need to understand the root cause of the condition. Acute hypophosphatemia is usually severe and sets in quickly, while chronic hypophosphatemia develops over time and may go undetected. 

Acute hypophosphatemia can be caused by alcoholism, mismanagement of diabetes, and severe burns. Hyperventilation can also cause acute hypophosphatemia, but blood phosphate levels typically return to typical levels once normal breathing resumes. 

Chronic hypophosphatemia can be caused by malnutrition, semistarvation, hormonal conditions (including Cushing syndrome), electrolyte problems, hyperparathyroidism, and the use of diuretics and antacids. Most people who have chronic hypophosphatemia are experiencing the condition due to the kidneys' inability to absorb phosphorus, causing blood phosphate levels to plummet. 

Hypophosphatemia Warning Signs

People who are at risk of hypophosphatemia need to be on the lookout for signs of the condition, as it can quickly become serious. 

Warning signs of hypophosphatemia include: 

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bone pain
  • Unexplained bone fractures
  • Stiff joints
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular breathing
  • Weight changes

Many parents who have followed their pediatrician’s directions to feed their child Neocate formula have noticed these issues. Some parents have even been accused of child abuse due to frequent bone fractures in children who have been fed with Neocate formula. 

Long-Term Effects Of Hypophosphatemia

Hypophosphatemia affects many systems in the body, and it must be recognized and treated quickly. 

Left untreated, hypophosphatemia can result in: 

  • Numbness/pins and needles feeling throughout the body
  • Bone diseases including rickets, osteomalacia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis
  • Low-functioning diaphragm
  • Altered mental state
  • Heart failure
  • Coma
  • Death

Thankfully, treatment is available for people who are suffering from hypophosphatemia. Supplementation can restore blood phosphate to normal levels, but the condition must be treated quickly in order to protect against lasting effects. 

The Connection Between Neocate Infant Formula and Hypophosphatemia

Recent studies show that Neocate formula either does not provide enough phosphate or prevents the body from absorbing phosphate, leading to hypophosphatemia. Many parents chose Neocate formula under the direction of their pediatrician due to their child’s dietary allergies and/or sensitivities. Parents of children who drank Neocate formula are frustrated that their best efforts to feed their child resulted in a dangerous health condition. 

Research shows that many children who were fed Neocate formula responded well to phosphate supplementation, and many were able to make a full recovery. This still does not detract from the trauma, pain, and suffering of children and parents who were forced to undergo treatment after using a baby formula that was advertised as a safe alternative to standard infant formula. Sometimes, parents were told that their child’s hypophosphatemia was due to an underlying condition, but nearly all children studied who drank Neocate showed improvement after phosphate supplementation. 

Has Your Child Experienced Hypophosphatemia After Neocate Formula Use? We May Be Able To Help. 

If your child was diagnosed with hypophosphatemia or showed symptoms of the condition after drinking Neocate formula, you’re not alone, and you may be entitled to financial compensation. Currently, individuals are filing lawsuits against Neocate. The case may develop into a mass tort case over time. At Select Justice, we’re here to advocate for your rights. Reach out to us today to discuss your child’s experience with Neocate. We’ll provide a free case review to help you decide whether it’s time to move forward to get the compensation you deserve. 

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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