What is Necrotising Enterocolitis
Necrotising Enterocolitis (Nek-roh-tie-sing En-ter-oh-coh-lie-tis) also shortened to NEC (Neck)
NEC is inflammation of the bowel that can cause damage to a variable extent. It usually causes a temporary intolerance of milk feeds but at its worse the bowel may become so damaged that parts of it die. NEC can affect just a small part of the bowel or sometimes the whole bowel may be affected.
Who does NEC affect?
NEC is mostly seen in premature babies but can also occur in term babies.The risk of premature babies developing NEC is thought to be higher in babies born before 32 weeks or those who weigh less than 1500g at birth. With advances in neonatal medicine many more very premature babies are surviving thus increasing the risk of NEC occurrence.NEC is less common in term babies accounting for 10% of cases. NEC in term babies is often but not always associated with underlying problems such as heart conditions and abnormalities of the bowel. NEC can occur in term babies who do not have any underlying problems.
NEC is a serious disease that can progress very quickly. It is highly important to get treatment right away if your baby is showing signs or symptoms of NEC.
Necrotising Enterocolitis develops when the tissue in the inner lining of the small and/or large intestine becomes inflamed and at its worst it can cause parts of the bowel to become so damaged that tissue within it dies.
If left untreated quickly a hole may form in the wall of the intestine which can then leak into the abdomen and cause widespread infection (Sepsis) If this was to happen this is then considered a medical emergency were immediate treatment is required. Babies can become sick very quickly with NEC, having seemed well hours before.