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J Pediatr Surg. 2006 Apr;41(4):792-8.

Laboratory parameters predictive of developing necrotizing enterocolitis in infants born before 33 weeks of gestation.

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Department of Pediatrics, The Pediatric Research Centre of the University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, 33521 Tampere, Finland.



The aim of this study was to identify laboratory findings predictive of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).


Prospective follow-up of 140 infants of less than 33 weeks of gestation. Twenty-six infants developed NEC (grades I to III, criteria of Bell et al [Ann Surg 1978;187:1-7]) (NEC group). For each, 2 birth-weight, gestational age- and postnatal age-matched controls were selected (control group). Blood counts, glucose and electrolyte levels, C-reactive protein, and acid-base balance 3 days, 2 days, and 1 day before and at the onset of NEC and at corresponding ages from the controls were recorded.


Metabolic acidosis occurred, the platelet levels decreased, and the blood glucose increased on successive days in the infants with grade NEC II-III. At the onset of NEC, the infants had significantly lower platelet and higher blood glucose levels compared with controls. More than half of infants with intestinal perforation had leukocyte levels above 30 x 10(9)/L and pH less than 7.25, and their mean blood glucose levels increased to more than 1.5 mmol/L in 24 hours. The remaining parameters were not useful.


A persistent metabolic acidosis, decreasing platelet, and increasing blood glucose level on several successive days might predict a developing NEC, and leukocyte values above 30 x 10(9)/L, pH less than 7.25, and a blood glucose rise by 1.5 mmol/L or more within 24 hours predict NEC with intestinal perforation. Such findings should alert the physician to look for signs of NEC in a preterm infant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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