Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC): A Devastating Disease of Prematurity

Parvesh M Garg, Padma P Garg and Charitharth V Lal

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a common and devastating gastrointestinal emergency that primarily affects premature infants. The incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis is 6-10% among infants with birth weight less than 1500 grams. The mortality due to NEC has not improved significantly despite advances in neonatal care and better understanding of clinical and basic sciences. The pathogenesis of NEC is not well understood and several factors such as prematurity, abnormal colonization with pathogenic bacteria, feeding practices, blood transfusion and altered intestinal barrier function may be involved. The clinical presentation of NEC could be sudden and the treatment plan could vary with the stage and type of presentation. Further research is needed to better understand the pathophysiology of NEC and, biomarkers for prediction, prevention and treatment need to be developed. Further clinical trials are needed to determine prevention and treatment modalities for this devastating disease.