NEC is the most common, serious gastrointestinal disease affecting newborn infants. Healthcare providers consider this disease as a medical and surgical emergency. The condition is most commonly seen in premature infants. NICHD supports and conducts research to understand the causes of NEC, to seek better treatments for this condition, and to find ways to prevent it.
Necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, is a common disease of the intestinal tract in which the tissue lining the intestine becomes inflamed, dies, and can slough off. The condition typically affects infants.
Common symptoms include not being able to digest food; bloating, swelling, and discoloration of the stomach; diarrhea; and more.
Preterm and low birth weight babies have a higher risk of NEC.
Certain symptoms can show NEC as well as an abdominal X-ray and other tests.
The treatment for NEC varies with the severity of the disease and can include feeding through a tube, antibiotics, and emergency surgery.