NEC in Preemies

NEC, otherwise known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis, is a very serious issue that affects many prematurely born babies. The exact amount of premature babies afflicted by NEC varies(as preemies range from being born between 22 weeks to 37 weeks gestation) but it is somewhere around 10 percent. My child was diagnoses with NEC. This is a serious matter that can cause an array of problems for a child, with that said, the chances of overcoming this illness are high. I started this site to raise awareness, as many sites bombard preemie parents with hopeless and scary statistics, I am here to say NEC can be defeated. Our baby girl was diagnoses with NEC at a vulnerable age of 25 weeks gestation(two weeks after she was born). This illness prompted her medical team to transfer her to a level 4 NICU facility, as she was born at a level 3 NICU unit that could not operate on children. NEC is most dangerous when it is detected late, as was the case with our child. Make sure to ask your care team about NEC, brain scans, and ROP. Due to whatever reason they didn’t detect NEC in our baby until it was almost too late. She was fighting ecoli, NEC, and was 25 weeks old so she naturally had lung and kidney issues as it was. NEC, in simple terms, is bacteria that forms/grows in the stomach area of a preemie. This growth of bacteria usually ends up incapacitating a given area of a child’s intestinal tract. The procedure used to correct NEC involves removing the area of dead(infected) intestine and brining the two remaining digestive lines to the surface of the stomach.

Above illustrates the surgery used to correct NEC. Note the first photo(left); the two tracts(left from removing diseased section) are brought to the surface of the stomach.

An ostomy bag is called for at this point. Once the baby grows and gets healthier the intestines are sewed back together thus removing the need for an ostomy bag. Stomach surgery is almost always called for as if the infected intestine were left unattended the bacteria would spread and ultimately cause the loss of all of the intestinal tract. There is often no long term damage or collateral loss as once the intestines are stitched back together there is enough intestine to carry out regular functionality. Our child just got her surgery reversed(intestine sewed back together) and she is doing great. She just pooped for the first time last night(a week after surgery) and we are so proud of her.

Tips and relatable knowledge:

Be sure to ask your doctor about checking your child for NEC early on; routine checks can prevent severe cases.

Depending on where the NEC has affected in the intestinal tract, it could determine if you child can benefit from feeds with an ostomy bag. Sometimes the infected area is so high up in the intestinal tract even if fed babies may not absorb much nutrients; in cases where NEC was lower in intestine they can absorb more nutrients and reversal surgery will not be as time sensitive.

Ask your doctor about NEC, ROP, PVL, and lung health. These are some of the main issues and problem areas for preemies and if caught early on will be much easier to tend to.

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