What is the role of the GI system in the pathophysiology of neonatal sepsis?

Updated: Jun 13, 2019
  • Author: Nathan S Gollehon, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Muhammad Aslam, MD  more...
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The intestines are colonized by organisms in utero or at delivery through swallowing of, and exposure to, amniotic fluid and genitourinary tract secretions. The immunologic defenses of the gastrointestinal tract are not mature, especially in the preterm infant. Lymphocytes proliferate in the intestines in response to mitogen stimulation; however, this proliferation is not fully effective in responding to a microorganism, as antibody response and cytokine formation are immature until approximately 46 weeks' gestation.

Necrotizing enterocolitis has been associated with the presence of a number of species of bacteria in the immature intestine. Overgrowth of these organisms in the neonatal lumen can be a component of the multifactorial pathophysiology of necrotizing enterocolitis.

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