Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a disease that predominantly affects premature infants. It is caused when portions of the small or large intestine undergo necrosis, or tissue death, leading to malnutrition and other complications. Though mortality rates are improving, 20 to 40 fatality rates persist for infants who suffer this disease.
It is not yet clear what causes NEC, though it has been observed that certain preventative measures drastically decrease the likelihood of it developing. It has also been noted that certain birth traumas that result in restricted blood flow might be contributing factors and that on occasion there are “outbreaks” of the disease, implying the possibility that it is contagious.
Of those preventative measures, access to human milk has the highest correlation with preventing this disease. To that end, the New York legislature has passed a law to provide access to human milk to low-income mothers whose children are at risk of developing Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Premature infants frequently struggle with breastfeeding, leading parents to use formula to ensure the child obtains the necessary calories to grow.
Preventing NEC will take a systematic approach. Though providing access to human milk is one step, minimizing the birth injuries that may lead to this disease is also important. Proper diagnostics are also key, as properly treating NEC isn’t possible without first determining that it exists. Doctors must be expected to be honest with mothers regarding just what went wrong in the delivery room.
If your child suffered from NEC, determining the cause of the disease is paramount. But all too often, doctors and hospitals are not willing to answer all of a parent’s questions. Please have your case examined by an experienced attorney who can help you determine what might have caused Necrotizing Enterocolitis in your infant, and whether or not an earlier diagnosis should have taken place.