"Necrosis" or "necrotizing" means the death of some or all of the tissue in an organ. "Enterocolitis" means inflammation of the small and large intestines.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening disease of newborn babies in which parts of the lining of their intestines becomes inflamed and dies.
NEC happens most often in babies who are premature or very sick
Your baby may have a swollen belly, throw up, and have bloody stool (poop)
Doctors treat NEC by stopping feeding, using a suction tube in the stomach, and giving feedings and antibiotics by vein (IV)
NEC is life-threatening, but about 3 out of 4 babies survive
After having NEC, babies may have a narrowed intestine and need surgery
Doctors don't know exactly what causes NEC, but it probably involves:
The poor blood flow can allow normal bacteria in the intestine to attack the lining of the intestine. The lining becomes inflamed and bleeds.
The biggest risk factor for NEC is:
Being born too early (premature birth)
Other things that increase the risk of NEC include:
Babies with NEC usually look very sick. They usually also have:
NEC can progress to affect the whole wall of the intestine and cause a:
Hole in the intestine (intestinal perforation)
Fluid and bacteria leak out of the hole into your child's tummy and cause a serious infection called peritonitis.
After NEC heals, your child's intestine may be scarred in places. After a few months, the scarring can partly close off the intestine and make it hard for digested food to go through (intestinal obstruction).
Doctors treat NEC by:
Later on, if your baby's intestine is narrow and has scars, doctors do surgery to remove the narrow section.