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Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1994;396:2-7.

Epidemiology of necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Department of Surgery, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus.


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a worldwide problem that has emerged in the past 25 years as the most common gastrointestinal emergency in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). In the United States the incidence ranges from 1 to 7.7% of NICU admissions. Ninety percent of the patients are premature infants. Mucosal injury, bacterial colonization and formula feeding are the three major pathogenetic factors that have been documented in most infants who have developed NEC. However, NEC may develop only if a threshold of injury, imposed by the coincidence of at least two of three events (intestinal ischemia, pathogenic bacteria, and excess of protein substrate) is exceeded. Immunological immaturity of the gut in premature babies may represent the crucial risk factor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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