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Necrotizing Enterocolitis - Symptoms and Treatment

Necrotizing Enterocolitisa is aserious intestinal illness in babies that can cause tissue damage to the intestines. It is a gastrointestinal disease that mostly affects premature infants, NEC involves infection and inflammation that causes destruction of the bowel ( intestine ) or part of the bowel. Although it affects only one in 2,000 to 4,000 births, or between 1% and 5% of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admissions, NEC is the most common and serious gastrointestinal disorder among hospitalized preterm infants.

Causes of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

There are no clear cause for this disease yet it is thought that intestinal tissues of premature infants are weakened by too little oxygen or blood flow, and when feedings are started, the added stress of food moving through the intestine allows bacteria that are normally found in the intestine to invade and damage the wall of the intestinal tissues. The damage may affect only a short segment of the intestine, or it may progress quickly to involve a much larger portion. It is believed to occur when the immune and digestive systems do not develop properly. This can happen when a baby is born prematurely or when there are complications during pregnancy or delivery.

Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

  • Have a swollen, tender, red, or shiny belly.
  • Not want to eat or be throwing up.
  • Be constipated.
  • Have dark, black, or bloody stools.
  • Have low or unstable body temperature.
  • Not be very active or have little energy.

Treatment of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

1) Antibiotic Therapy:

2) In case of intestinal perforation (hole) or peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal wall) develops, surgery is indicated.

3) Colostomy or ileostomy

4) In newborns who have mild to moderate necrotizing enterocolitis, treatment consists of intravenous (IV) feeding, antibiotics, and removing extra fluids and gas from the intestine.



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