Necrotizing enterocolitis: It’s not all in the gut

Alissa L. Meister, Kim K. Doheny, R. Alberto Travagli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Necrotizing enterocolitis is the leading cause of death due to gastrointestinal disease in preterm neonates, affecting 5–12% of neonates born at a very-low birth weight. Necrotizing enterocolitis can present with a slow and insidious onset, with some neonates displaying early symptoms such as feeding intolerance. Treatment during the early stages includes bowel rest and careful use of antibiotics, but surgery is required if pneumoperitoneum and intestinal perforation occur. Mortality rates among neonates requiring surgery are estimated to be 20–30%, mandating the development of non-invasive and reliable biomarkers to predict necrotizing enterocolitis before the onset of clinical signs. Such biomarkers would allow at-risk neonates to receive maximal preventative therapies such as careful nutritional consideration, probiotics, and increased skin-to-skin care. Impact statement: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating gastrointestinal disease; its high mortality rate mandates the development of non-invasive biomarkers to predict NEC before its onset. This review summarizes the pathogenesis, prevention, unresolved issues, and long-term outcomes of NEC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-95
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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