Today I am going to talk about a condition called Necrotising Enterocolitis or NEC. NEC is a disease affecting the intestine. The intestinal lining might get damaged allowing harmful substances and bacteria into the body. This can occur in small areas of the intestine or extensive areas. Depending on the severity, the symptoms vary.
In mild stages, the babies might have abdominal distension, vomiting, bile in the aspirates, or blood in the stools. When the disease progresses and becomes severe, they can cause holes in the intestine, which are called as perforation, leading to severe respiratory distress, abdominal distension, low blood pressure, and can lead to death of the infant. Hence, identifying this condition early is very important and appropriate treatment needs to be instituted. Premature babies are prone to this condition, especially when they are on formula milk feeding or when they have fluctuations in their blood pressures or when they have severe infections. Breast milk is protective from this condition. Hence we encourage all attempts should be made to start breast milk. If the symptoms are mild, the feeding is stopped for anywhere between two to three days, the baby is closely observed, blood test and abdominal x-ray is done. In these two days, if the symptoms do not worsen, restarting of the feeds is done. If the symptoms are severe, other supporting measures, including blood transfusions and assistance from the surgeon is taken. In severe conditions where the perforations occur, the surgeon might have to operate the infant.
NEC is a life threatening condition and to prevent this condition, breast milk should be encouraged, standard feeding practises should be employed, treatment of the infection should be prompt and appropriate management at different stages is important.
Team Ovum Hospitals