Understanding Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) – How To Spot The Signs

Understanding Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) – How To Spot The Signs

What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Around 1 in every 1,000 premature infants develop Necrotizing Enterocolitis (commonly known as NEC). Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) affects both the stomach and intestine. The intestinal tissue becomes enlarged and dies off.  NEC mainly occurs in babies that are born before 38 weeks, those that are given a feeding tube, or babies with a birth weight that is less than 5 pounds 5 ounces.

There are four variations of NEC.

Classic: This develops in babies born prior to 28 weeks, usually a baby is diagnosed with NEC three to six weeks after being born.

Transfusion-associated: Is when a baby requires a blood transfusion to increase the red blood cells. Usually, a baby is diagnosed with NEC 3 days following the transfusion.

Atypical: This is when a baby is diagnosed with NEC within seven days of being born.

Term Infant: Most babies born after 39 weeks are at a much lower risk of being diagnosed with NEC. Generally, this is a result of a birth defect.

Symptoms of NEC include:

  • Belly pain or swelling
  • Food Aversion/ Refusing to eat
  • Lack of Normal Weight Gain
  • Extreme exhaustion or lethargy
  • Bloody stool or diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

NEC is often diagnosed in one of three ways: through a blood test, fecal test, or an x-ray. The blood test can determine if bacteria or infections are present in the blood. The fecal test will look for blood in the stool. An x-ray of the stomach can show gas that surrounds the intestine.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is typically a result of a premature infant being fed cow milk-based formula before their digestive system was capable of breaking down the enzymes contained in cow’s milk. The underdeveloped digestive system becomes inflamed, and the tissue begins to die off as a result of this. Baby formula manufacturers have been aware of this risk yet failed to warn consumers that their products could be harmful to premature infants.

If you believe that your child may have NEC, The Yost Legal Group is here to help you through this difficult time. Give our office a call at 1-800-YOST-LAW (967-8529). There is no fee unless we recover. All consultations are free.