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What is necrotizing enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is one of the most common gastrointestinal emergencies treated in the NICU. It’s an inflammatory bowel disease that affects premature infants but is also seen in full-term infants. With NEC, the lining of the intestinal wall dies and the tissue sloughs off. In serious cases, the bowel wall can perforate (rupture) and lead to abdominal swelling, abnormal stools, and increased apnea (when a baby stops breathing for short periods of time) and bradycardia (a slower-than-normal heart rate).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.