Necrotizing enterocolitis

Overview

Type of disease: Rare conditions

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a condition characterized by variable injury or damage to the intestinal tract, causing death of intestinal tissue. The condition most often occurs in premature newborns, but it may also occur in term or near-term babies. Signs and symptoms may include abdominal distension, bloody stools, vomiting bile-stained fluid, and pneumatosis intestinalis (gas in the bowel wall) identified on abdominal x-ray. Affected infants occasionally have temperature instability, lethargy, or other findings of sepsis. The exact cause of NEC is unknown. Treatment involves stopping feedings, passing a small tube into the stomach to relieve gas, and giving intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Surgery may be needed if there is perforated or necrotic (dead) bowel tissue. About 60-80% of affected newborns survive the condition.
Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.

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