What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

Necrotizing enterocolitis is a serious condition that affects premature babies, causing an inflammation of the intestinal tissue that can result in a hole or perforation of the baby’s intestines. Bacteria may enter the stomach or bloodstream through a perforation, causing conditions such as abdominal infections and sepsis, intestinal stricture, short bowel (or short gut) syndrome, and/or growth failure and developmental delays.

Infants and premature babies have weaker digestive and immune systems. When a premature baby gets an intestinal infection, both systems have a hard time fighting it.

Many hospitals use high-calorie baby formula products based on cow's milk, or fortifiers specifically designed for premature babies. However, feeding preterm and low birth weight infants with formula rather than human breast milk increases the risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis.

For more information, please visit our NEC webpage.