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Necrotizing Enterocolitis in the Full Term Neonate

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has been a long-recognized complication of prematurity, but there is a paucity of studies on term infants. We sought to characterize the clinical presentation and outcomes of full term (FT) infants with NEC and compare these to our experience with preterm (PT) neonates.

Methods

We conducted a chart review of infants admitted to the NICU at University of Michigan with a diagnosis of NEC for over a 10-year period with a Modified Bell stage of 2 or greater. We compared the outcomes and comorbidities of PT against those of FT, defined as gestational age at birth below and above 37 weeks, respectively.

Results

Out of 170 infants, 28(17%) were FT. FT neonates were more likely to have undergone cardiac surgery for a congenital defect, excluding PDA ligation (64% vs. 8%)*. When compared to FT infants, PT infants were more likely to require surgical intervention (18% vs. 59%)*, have Bell stage 3 disease (82% vs. 43%)*, require vasopressor support (21% vs. 42%)+, and require ventilatory support (43% vs 75%)*. *p<0.01,+p<0.05.

Conclusion

FT neonates present with different patterns of disease and have different outcomes, suggesting that this may be a different clinical entity than NEC in preterm infants.

Type of study

Retrospective review

Level of evidence

Level III

Visual abstract created by Alejandra M Casar Berazaluce, MD - Pediatric Surgery Research Fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

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