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Understanding NEC


Update: This post is no longer relevant to Maelee's situation. Instead we found out she had an intestinal issue she was likely born with.

You can still learn about NEC but the notes below have been proven wrong.

This is another post for explanation, to educate on Maelee's current situation. We've now gone into what the hospital calls NEC protocol three times. What is NEC?

We've included all the details from a pamphlet the hospital provides.

Understanding NEC

The words necrotizing enterocolitis [neck-ro-tie-zing en-tear-oh-kerlie-tis], or NEC, describe a disease of the intestines. With NEC, part of the lining of the intestine breaks down. This affects how the baby's digestive system processes food.

What causes NEC?

The cause of NEC is not known. NEC is most common in premature babies and/or babies who are already ill.

Other possible risk factors may include:

  • Low birth weight

  • Chorloamnionitis (infection in the placenta and the fluid surrounding the baby. This most often happens when there is a long time between when the mother's water breaks and when the baby is delivered.)

  • Low oxygen levels during birth

  • Congenital heart disease. Congenital means existing at birth

  • Blood exchange transfusion

Note: The first two times we started the protocol were because of air in Maelee's belly. This third time is more critical as she has more signs.

What are the symptoms of NEC?

Symptoms of NEC may come on slowly or quickly.

They can include:

  • Bloating

  • Diarrhea

  • Low activity level

  • Abnormal body temperature (can be too low or too high)

  • Blood in the stool

  • Limited or no interest in eating

  • Vomiting

Is NEC life-threatening?

NEC is a serious disease, and it can be life-threatening. Early, aggressive treatment helps improve the chances of survival.

Treating Necrotizing Enterocolitis

What treatment will my baby receive?

When NEC is suspected or diagnosed in a baby:

  • Feedings by mouth are stopped

  • A tube is inserted into the baby's stomach to relieve gas pressure

  • Fluids are delivered intravenously (through an IV)

  • Antibiotics are given

How will I know how my baby is doing?

The NICU team will keep you up-to-date on your baby's progress. At first, babies with NEC receive X-rays and blood tests several times a day. As the baby gets better, these tests may get less frequent.

Will my baby need surgery?

Some babies with NEC will need surgery. This may happen if:

  • There is a lot of damage to the intestine

  • There are holes or tears (perforations) in the wall of the intestine

  • If the baby has peritonitis (inflammation of the inner wall of the abdomen)

  • If the baby is not getting better with non-surgical treatment

Note: This is the most critical part you can pray for. We are praying that none of these pieces happen and we caught it quick enough to prevent long term issues.

What will happen next?

Many babies respond well to treatment for NEC; however, each baby is different.

Note: Specific for Maelee, she's going to be resting and healing with no food (milk) for 10 days and antibiotics during that time. They do give plenty of nutrition via the IVs during this time.

We hope this helps you know more without having to google as many things. We also leave a lot of medical terms out of our update posts because knowing the basic stuff is enough to know what to pray for. God knows all the details!

Text taken from pamphlet provided at Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, Tulsa OK. NICU - C2011 lkarla, Inc, IMK111-01434 September 2011

#explanations #NEC #faq #facts

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