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Necrotizing enterocolitis

  • Definition

    Necrotizing enterocolitis is the death of intestinal tissue. It most often affects premature or sick babies.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Necrotizing enterocolitis occurs when the lining of the intestinal wall dies and the tissue falls off. The cause for this disorder is unknown. However, it is thought that a decrease in blood flow to the bowel keeps the bowel from producing mucus that protects the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria in the intestine may also be a cause.

    This disorder usually develops in an infant that is already ill or premature, and most often develops while the infant is still in the hospital.

    Those with a higher risk for this condition include:

    • Premature infants
    • Infants who are fed concentrated formulas
    • Infants in a nursery where an outbreak has occurred
    • Infants who have received blood exchange transfusions