Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) remains a major cause of neonatal morbidity and death. The pathophysiology is poorly understood. Prevailing evidence suggests that NEC is due to an inappropriate inflammatory response of the immature gut to some undefined insult. The mortality rate (15%–25%) for affected infants has not changed appreciably in 30 years. Many infants with NEC recover uneventfully with medical therapy and have long-term outcomes similar to unaffected infants of matched gestational age. Infants with progressive disease requiring surgical intervention suffer almost all of the mortality and morbidity. Of these, ∼30%–40% will die of their disease and most of the remainder will develop long-term neurodevelopmental and gastrointestinal morbidity. Recent randomized trials suggest that the choice of operation does not influence patient outcome. Current work is focusing on developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis and improving means to identify which infants are at greatest risk of disease progression.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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