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Necrotizing Enterocolitis May Impair Neurodevelopment

Almost half of neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis have neurodevelopmental impairments

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Newborns with necrotizing enterocolitis are more likely than other infants to have neurodevelopmental impairment, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Simon Eaton, Ph.D., of the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, U.K., and colleagues reviewed 182 studies of 7,843 newborns, including 10 studies that compared outcomes for infants with extremely low birth weight with or without necrotizing enterocolitis. The median follow-up was 20 months.

Forty-five percent of the 821 infants who had neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis had neurodevelopmental problems. Newborns with necrotizing enterocolitis had a 1.7-fold higher risk of psychomotor and cognitive problems, a 2.3-fold greater risk of visual impairment and a 1.5-fold higher risk of cerebral palsy. Infants with Bell's stage III disease and those who required surgery were more likely to have impairment (odds ratio, 2.3).

"Necrotizing enterocolitis is associated with significantly worse neurodevelopmental outcome than prematurity alone," the authors write. "Presence of advanced necrotizing enterocolitis and need for surgery increase the risk for neurological impairment."

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