Pronounced: NECK-ro-tize-ing ENT-ero-co-LYE-tisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious condition of the intestine. The intestine digests food. It also moves food from the stomach to the anus. NEC is the swelling and destruction of a part of the intestine. This condition often occurs soon after your baby starts feeding. It is found mostly in premature and very low birthweight babies. NEC can also be found in full-term infants.
This is condition requires care from your baby’s doctor. NEC often occurs in the first two weeks of life but can occur as late as 3 months of age. The baby is often still in the hospital when NEC starts.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The exact cause of NEC is not known. Below is a possible series of events that can lead to NEC:
- Premature babies do not have fully developed intestines. This may make it difficult for the intestines to handle the stress of moving food.
- The stress may cause a decrease in oxygen or blood flow to the intestines. The loss of oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to the intestine.
- Bacteria can enter the intestine through the damaged area. The bacteria can lead to an infection and swelling. This will weaken the wall of the intestine even further.
- If the process continues it can make a hole in the intestine.
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.