How is the onset of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) characterized in infants?

Updated: Dec 27, 2017
  • Author: Shelley C Springer, JD, MD, MSc, MBA, FAAP; Chief Editor: Muhammad Aslam, MD  more...
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In premature infants, onset of NEC is typically during the first several weeks after birth, with the age of onset inversely related to gestational age at birth. In term infants, the reported median age of onset is 1-3 days, but onset may occur as late as age 1 month.

Initial symptoms may be subtle and can include 1 or more of the following:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Delayed gastric emptying

  • Abdominal distention, abdominal tenderness, or both

  • Ileus/decreased bowel sounds

  • Abdominal wall erythema (advanced stages)

  • Hematochezia

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