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Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(2):291-3.

Too much short chain fatty acids cause neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Jack and Lucy Clark Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, PO Box 1508, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA.


Nenatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a disease mainly affects premature infants. It is well known that prematurity, enteral formula feeding, and bacterial colonization are three major risk factors for NEC. Acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid are short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are produced mainly in the colon by bacterial fermentation of undigested carbohydrates. Although luminal production of modest quantities of SCFAs is essential for normal colonic mucosal function, excessive production/accumulation of SCFAs may arise in premature infants due to increased luminal carbohydrates malabsorption and poor gastrointestinal motility, and may have deleterious effects on mucosal integrity. Therefore, it is proposed that too much luminal short chain fatty acids cause neonatal NEC.

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