Necrotizing enterocolitis (say "NEK-ruh-ty-zing en-tuh-roh-kuh-LY-tus"), or NEC, is serious damage to tissue in the intestine (bowel). It is usually caused by a lack of blood flow to a part of the bowel. Bacteria can grow there and cause an infection. This may damage the bowel more. As NEC gets worse, the baby will not be able to feed.
NEC can happen in infants and babies. It happens more often in premature newborns.
If the damage is not severe and treatment works well, the baby may be able to feed within 3 to 10 days.
Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. But the hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jennifer Merchant, MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
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