Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal disease of premature infants. NEC affects the bowels of premature infants and causes an inflammatory process that can lead to intestinal tissue damage and death.
NEC affects 5-10% of babies born weighing less than 1,500 grams. Despite significant advances in neonatal care, morbidity and mortality rates associated with this disease have not improved in 30 years. In the U.S. alone, approximately 3,000 babies develop NEC each year and over 1,000 babies die from this complex intestinal condition. Once diagnosed, many babies only live for a few hours or days, and survivors can have lifelong neurological and nutritional complications.
Infant death due to NEC is more common than infant death due to influenza, allergies, car accidents, choking, and drop-side crib accidents combined. According to the C.D.C., NEC is the tenth leading cause of overall infant mortality in the United States. Despite focused research on NEC for over four decades, we do not fully understand why NEC occurs, when NEC occurs, how NEC occurs, or which neonates will develop the disease.
- Risk Factors
- Key Information for Clinicians
- Resources for Families
- Potential Root Causes of NEC
- Needed Research