NEC is a very serious illness that occurs in newborns. It arises as a result of large intestine (colon) inflammation.
NEC is a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal system. NEC can cause rapid tissue decay and tissue death in a newborn’s intestines. NEC typically occurs in premature babies (37 weeks or earlier) in either the large and/or small intestines. Initially, the bacterial infection starts in the lining of the inner intestine and from there can spread outward through the full thickness of the intestine.
Cases of NEC range from mild to extremely serious. A mild case of NEC may cause moderate pain from bowel inflammation. The most serious cases of NEC can involve a hole (perforation) forming in the intestine, and it can be fatal if not immediately treated. Deadly and aggressive bacteria can escape the digestive system (through the perforation) and lead to abdominal cavity infection. If the abdominal cavity becomes infected, it can very quickly lead to systemic and deadly infection of the bloodstream called sepsis.