Health & Wellness

Understanding NEC Disease In Premature Babies

NEC Disease

Premature birth is a complication that affects the health of the baby. It leads to complications, such as NEC disease, respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and sepsis. Premature babies are more prone to these infections than full-term babies. 

The reason is that, unlike full-term babies, premature babies’ immune systems haven’t developed. Thus, it’s harder for them to fight off sicknesses when they get an infection. This makes them more susceptible to severe illnesses like NEC. NEC often leads to death if left untreated for too long!

What Is NEC?

According to the NICHD, approximately 9,000 of the 480,000 premature babies suffer from NEC. NEC is a digestive tract infection that causes the intestines to die. 

NEC can be fatal if it goes untreated or is treated too late. But, there are many ways for parents to prevent or treat NEC at home. They should look out for signs when their baby is sick with a stomach ache or diarrhea. And must be quick to provide immediate treatment.

What Causes NEC in NewBorns?

The primary cause of newborn death is birth defects, which account for 20% of all baby fatalities. Birth defects can lead to problems like NEC. NEC also occurs when the baby is not getting enough breast milk or does not have enough oxygen. The following conditions increase your baby’s risk of developing NEC:

  • Being premature (born before 37 weeks). Premature babies have immature digestive systems. Hence, they are more likely to develop infections leading to NEC.
  • A medical condition such as short bowel syndrome makes them more likely to get NEC. 
  • Babies born with a congenital intestinal defect are also at risk of gastroschisis (where the intestines stick out from the stomach wall), omphalocele (where part of your baby’s stomach sticks out), meconium ileus (a blockage in one end of their small intestine) or Hirschsprung disease (a problem with how nerves work in their large intestine).
  • The toxins in cow’s milk formula also cause necrotizing enterocolitis in babies.

We can’t do much about the causes, such as premature birth, medical condition, and congenital disabilities. But we can indeed look after the baby’s nutritional intake. It’s suggested to breastfeed the baby, at least in the initial months. 

However, for specific reasons, a mother is not allowed to breastfeed, especially when the baby is in the incubator. During that period, the hospital is responsible for the baby’s diet. Here’s when hospital negligence becomes one of the causes of babies suffering from NEC. Most times, hospitals feed cow-based formula to babies.

Formula-fed babies are more likely to suffer from NEC than breastfed ones. This is because cow’s milk formula contains protein and fat that premature babies can’t digest. The toxicity of the formula could starve your baby’s intestines, which may lead to NEC. If your baby is a victim of this, you must file an NEC baby formula lawsuit.

Filing the lawsuit will help you seek compensation for medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other damages. Most importantly, you can finance your baby’s treatment with compensation and provide the baby with the needed care.

How to Prevent NEC From Developing in Babies?

NEC is the most common disease among the premature, and 1 in every 1000 babies suffers from it. The best way to help prevent NEC is to try and avoid formula feeding.  Breast milk is always recommended for babies who are born prematurely. It promotes faster growth than any other type of milk available on the market. 

But if breastfeeding isn’t an option, your neonatologist may recommend giving the baby a “preterm” formula. This formula contains different nutrients than regular formulas and helps prevent necrotizing enterocolitis.

If you do choose to feed your premature baby with a bottle, make sure that the feeding is slow and gentle but not too fast. Feeding too quickly can cause a child’s abdominal muscles to cramp up, leading him or her to throw up some milk prematurely, unintentionally vomiting.

What Are the Treatments for NEC?

It’s been estimated that 8 in 10 babies survive NEC. If your baby has NEC, the chances of survival are high. The baby with NEC must undergo the following treatments:

  • Feeding tube. A feeding tube may be placed in your baby’s stomach to deliver nutrients and medications directly into the digestive tract. This can help prevent dehydration and provide a means of delivering antibiotics now into the small intestine. The feeding tube also allows for more accurate doses of medication to treat an infection if one develops.
  • Antibiotics. Intravenous (IV) antibiotics are often administered to newborns with suspected or confirmed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The goal is to prevent infection from spreading throughout the body. This treatment targets harmful bacteria in the colon. But it may not always be helpful because it doesn’t permanently eliminate all of them or reach all areas where they exist within different parts of NEC-affected tissue at once. However, it can prevent further damage caused by harmful strains while waiting for other methods like surgery that may prove more effective at treating this condition long term.
  • Surgery. Surgery is the primary treatment for NEC and is generally recommended if a newborn has moderate or severe symptoms. During surgery, doctors remove the damaged portion of the intestine and reconnect healthy tissue from either end. This procedure is called an ostomy surgery because it creates an opening (stoma) where waste can exit the body instead of passing through the colon usually.

Seek Professional Help

If your baby has been diagnosed with NEC, seek medical attention immediately. You should also contact a lawyer if you believe that the hospital or NICU has caused harm to your baby by not correctly screening for NEC or treating it once it is detected. Or perhaps by feeding your baby toxic cow-based formula. 

If you seek help from an attorney, they can explain how to prepare for an investigation into the medical malpractice case and file paperwork with court officials. They will also help file legal claims against responsible healthcare professionals and help them get compensation if they win the case.


Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of NEC in premature babies. The most important thing to remember is that if your child has been diagnosed with this condition, it is critical to take them to the hospital immediately and get them treatment as soon as possible. If negligence is shown on the part of doctors or nurses during this process, they may be held liable for any damages caused by their actions (or lack thereof).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *