Necrotizing enterocolitis is the death of intestinal tissue. It most often affects premature or sick babies.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Necrotizing enterocolitis occurs when the lining of the intestinal wall dies and the tissue falls off. The cause for this disorder is unknown. However, it is thought that a decrease in blood flow to the bowel keeps the bowel from producing mucus that protects the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria in the intestine may also be a cause.
This disorder usually develops in an infant that is already ill or premature, and most often develops while the infant is still in the hospital.
Those with a higher risk for this condition include:
Infants who are fed concentrated formulas
Infants in a nursery where an outbreak has occurred
Infants who have received blood exchange transfusions
Symptoms may come on slowly or suddenly, and may include:
Abdominal distention Blood in the stool
- Feeding intolerance
- Temperature instability
Signs and tests
- Stool for occult blood test (guaiac)
white blood cell countin a CBC Thrombocytopenia(low platelet count)
In an infant suspected of having necrotizing enterocolitis, feedings are stopped and gas is relieved from the bowel by inserting a small tube into the stomach.
Surgery will be needed if there is a hole in the intestines or
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a serious disease with a death rate approaching 25%. Early, aggressive treatment helps improve the outcome.
- Intestinal perforation
Calling your health care provider
If any symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis develop, especially in an infant that has recently been hospitalized for illness or