Necrotizing enterocolitis

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Necrotizing enterocolitis is an infection and inflammation of a newborn's intestine. It can be mild or severe, leading to bowel obstruction and tissue death.

Symptoms in a newborn may include a swollen or tender belly, poor appetite or vomiting, constipation, or dark, black, or bloody stools. A newborn may also have a low or unstable body temperature and be less active or have little energy.

The cause of necrotizing enterocolitis is not clear but may include premature birth and immature immune and digestive systems.

This condition requires treatment in the hospital. The newborn is given nutrients and medicines intravenously (I.V.) to allow time for the intestines to heal. And antibiotics are used to prevent or treat infection. Surgery is sometimes needed.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.