Necrotizing enterocolitis


Necrotizing enterocolitis is an infection and inflammation of the intestines. It is most common in babies who are born prematurely. Most newborns recover and continue to live normal lives in good health.

But if the infection becomes very severe, it is possible to cause serious damage to the intestines, which can be fatal. Some children who develop the disease have chronic problems with their growth or development.

The disease usually appears in the first 2 weeks after birth. But it can happen up to 3 months after birth.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms depend on how severe the child’s condition is. Most often they are:

• Swollen, tender, red or shiny abdominal skin;
• Constipation;
• Dark, reddish or bloody stools ;
• unstable body temperature;
• Chills and high fever;
• Rapid heartbeat and breathing;
• Children refuse to eat;
• Vomiting;
• Children are more small energetic than usual;

What are the causes?

Doctors are not sure what causes this condition. It is thought to be due to malfunctioning of the digestive and immune systems. This can happen when the baby is born prematurely or there are complications during pregnancy or delivery.

Specialists are not aware whether not breastfeeding the baby and feeding artificial food can cause the disease. But it has been found that the disease is much less common in newborns who are fed with mother’s breast milk.

Treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis

Treatment takes place in a hospital in a neonatal intensive care unit and lasts between 3 and 10 days. But it can last longer if the child’s condition is severe. Treatment consists of intravenous feeding, antibiotics, and a tube is inserted from the nose into the child’s stomach, through which excess fluids and gases in the intestines are removed.

If your baby does not respond to treatment or a hole develops in the bowel wall, surgery may be required.In 1 in 4 cases of the disease, surgery is required. The surgical treatment is carried out in 2 stages through two operations, deciding whether to be in the same week or rescheduled within the month.

During the first operation, the damaged parts of the intestine are removed and a colostomy is created – an opening of the large intestine in the front abdominal wall or an opening of the small intestine /ileostomy/ in order to remove the intestinal contents through the abdominal cavity , bags are used for this purpose, in which the intestinal contents are taken away.

These procedures ensure the healing of the intestines. And then the second operation is performed in which the stoma is closed and the intestinal contents pass normally again.

After treatment, the baby will be discharged from the hospital and should start eating well and stop losing weight. Nurses can show you how to feed and care for your child at home.

It is normal to feel stressed when your child has health problems. It can be stressful to watch your baby enter the hospital in the first months of his life.

You may feel frustrated that you cannot hold your child as often as you would like or that you cannot breastfeed. You will feel better if you talk about your worries with someone close to you.

Don’t be shy to ask your child’s pediatrician if you don’t understand something about the treatment or their health condition.

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