Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most severe health issue among infants. It usually occurs when the large intestine's tissue gets inflamed, and this inflammation also damages and starts killing the tissue in the baby's colon. NEC is common in newborns but is more prevalent among premature or sick babies. This is particularly true for newborns weighing less than 3 pounds and 4 ounces (1,500 grams).
In older, bigger newborns, it is uncommon. The higher the risk of NEC, the smaller and younger the infant. Their bodies aren't always up to digesting food and battling illnesses, which raises their chances of being diagnosed with NEC.
Therefore, NEC can affect any preterm infant, but newborns who do not receive human milk are more prone to develop it. Human milk is simpler to digest than cow's milk and includes chemicals that aid in the fight against infection and the maturation of intestinal cells. This article will help you learn more about the different NEC treatment methods, so keep reading till the end.
1. How Is Necrotizing Enterocolit is Diagnosed?
Babies showing the NEC symptoms can be diagnosed to detect the presence of any abnormal gas formation that shows up when performing an X-ray. The gas formation pattern appears as a streaky or bubbly form around the intestine walls.
In the most severe cases, the air leaves the intestines and gathers in the large veins in the abdominal cavity or the liver. The doctor might withdraw the fluid by inserting a needle into the baby’s belly to check any hole in the intestine. In such cases, doctors can also advise you to try Similac, an organic and non-GMO baby formula ideal for nourishing babies. But before giving such formulas to newborns, you must learn more about similac and NEC here.
NEC treatment differs depending on the severeness of the condition, and its three phases (Bell stages) are as follows:
Stage 1, suspected NEC: Bloody stools, decreased activity (lethargy), an unstable temperature, etc. are some of the symptoms.
Stage 2, definite NEC: All of the symptoms of stage 1 are present, along with slightly lower blood platelet levels, excess lactic acid, no bowel noises, limited or no intestinal movement, intense pain when the belly is touched, and the development of gas-filled gaps in the gut walls.
Stage 3, advanced NEC: It includes the symptoms of stages 1 and 2 and, low blood pressure, a reduction in the number of specific white blood cells, blood clot formation, cessation of urination, inflammation of abdominal tissue, increased pain in the abdomen, redness, a build-up of gas and fluid in the abdominal cavity, and excess acid.
2. Treatments Methods of NEC Symptoms
Patients in stage 1 get intensive supportive care, with the intestine being rested by eating via an intravenous line rather than the mouth, along with ongoing diagnostic and intensive care procedures to prevent the development of the condition. However, patients in stage 2 receive the same therapy as those in stage 1, along with antibiotics. When it comes to staging 3 patients, doctors suggest emergency surgery.
Medication or surgical therapy options are available for pediatric patients with necrotizing enterocolitis. However, medical therapy is effective initially if the intestine is not already ruptured and a small part of the intestine is damaged. Most newborns with necrotizing enterocolitis do not require surgery to relieve their symptoms; many of them can heal and resume their everyday lives.
The following are examples of medical treatment:
- Putting an end to all regular feedings. An intravenous (IV) catheter delivers nutrition to the infant. A nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose and into the stomach, which removes air and fluids from the baby's stomach and intestine, reducing swelling and pain.
- Beginning the antibiotic treatment.
- Examining stools for signs of blood.
Take blood tests regularly to identify early indications of illness and chemical imbalances in the body.
- Providing oxygen or mechanically assisted breathing if belly enlargement prevents breathing.
- Platelet and red blood cell transfusions may be vital in difficult situations.
Surgery is usually required if a baby does not respond to medicinal therapy or if the intestine is ruptured. A pediatric surgeon analyzes the intestine and removes just the affected sections, leaving as much of the intestine as possible to allow the less damaged areas to restore function. Sometimes, a drain may be inserted into the abdomen to remove the contaminated fluid.
A temporary ostomy enables the bowel to recuperate and mend. If the condition has advanced, another surgery to check the abdomen may be necessary 24 to 48 hours later.
The diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis can be terrifying for parents. It's aggravating to be unable to feed your kid, especially when they are so young. Providing newborns and parents with the necessary holding and bonding may be impossible. Remember, with medical care; your baby can be back on a regular eating schedule in no time. Infants requiring surgery have a more difficult journey, although many survive. A higher birth weight increases the odds of a successful pregnancy.
It can be heartbreaking when your preterm infant has a setback like NEC when they appear to be doing well. NICU care teams have been trained to recognize this condition and respond swiftly. However, some newborns improve with only a few treatments. Children that require surgery frequently enjoy their lives. Remember, acting according to the doctor’s suggestions is highly recommended.