Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Necrotizing enterocolitis is an infection and inflammation of a newborn's intestine. It can be mild or severe, leading to bowel obstruction and tissue death.

Symptoms in a newborn may include a swollen or tender belly, poor appetite or throwing up, constipation, and dark, black, or bloody stools. A newborn may also have a low or unstable body temperature and not be very active or energetic.

Necrotizing enterocolitis is believed to result from a combination of factors, including premature birth and immature immune and digestive systems.

This condition requires treatment in the hospital. The newborn is fed intravenously to allow time for the intestines to heal. And antibiotics are used to prevent or treat infection. Surgery is sometimes needed.

Last Revised: March 22, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology

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