What you need to know About Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Children?

One in 2,000 to 4,000 babies around the world are born with a tragic intestinal disease named necrotizing enterocolitis.

NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis) is a common condition that occurs mostly among premature infants and typically happens within the first two weeks of life.

The condition has also been diagnosed in full-term infants, more commonly amongst the ones who are fed formula instead of breast milk. 

Recent medical research associates cow milk-based formula to necrotizing enterocolitis.

Studies demonstrate that formula milk can cause a serious bacterial infection in the stomach of premature babies.

It further leads to inflammation and injuries to the tissues in the intestinal wall, which can quickly become dangerous and potentially life-threatening. 

Parents who have experienced the unthinkable are now filing NEC formula lawsuits against the manufacturers of these baby formulas to get justice.

Read on to learn more about necrotizing enterocolitis. 

What is NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)?

NEC is a serious gastrointestinal disease that affects the intestines of premature infants. In this condition, the intestinal tissues are injured or inflamed, and the intestines are no longer able to hold waste.

It causes the bacteria to spill into the abdomen and may also bass into the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening infection. In most cases, the injured parts of the intestine die and have to be surgically removed. 

Causes of NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)

While the exact cause of NEC is undetermined, several risk factors have been identified.

These risk factors are as follows: 

  • Premature birth and underdeveloped/weak internal organs 
  • Diminished blood flow and lowered oxygen level during a difficult delivery 
  • Immaturity of the mucous membranes in the intestines
  • Formula feedings in premature babies with an immature gut

Common Symptoms of NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)

NEC symptoms start to develop within the first couple of weeks from birth.

These symptoms differ from child to child, but some of the common symptoms that a baby might have are:

  • Feeding intolerance
  • Increased gastric residuals
  • Lethargy
  • Unable to thrive
  • Unstable body temperature
  • Vomit containing bile
  • A swollen, red, or tender belly 
  • Abdominal discoloration
  • Constipation or Diarrhea  
  • Systemic Hypotension (Low blood pressure)

If your child demonstrates any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you must immediately consult a doctor.

What you need to know About Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Children

An X-ray of the child’s abdomen and some blood tests will help determine the exact cause, severity and the right treatment option.

Treatment for NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)

Treatment for NEC needs to start immediately after the diagnosis has been confirmed. However, the treatment course will depend on factors like medical history, health status, severity of the infection, etc.

Your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Bowel rest by stopping feeds
  • Nasogastric tube to suction air and fluids out of the body
  • IV for prenatal nutrition and fluid replacement
  • Antibiotics to fight off and prevent infection
  • Monitoring the progress of the disease
  • Isolation procedures to keep any infection from spreading

Surgery is recommended if the child doesn’t get better with treatment or the condition is severe.

It’s very unfortunate and disheartening to see a baby in the intensive care unit.

To prevent that, certain steps can be taken. For one, feeding infants breast milk instead of formula can significantly lower the chances of NEC.