The aim of the study was to assess the effect of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) on neurodevelopmental outcome and growth. Neurodevelopmental outcome of 20 out of 22 suriviving very low birthweight infants (VLBW) diagnosed with NEC between 1992 and 1996 was compared with 40 control infants matched for gestational age and year of admission. Follow-up studies were performed at 12 and 20 mo of corrected age. The German revision of the Griffiths' scales was used for development assessment. Neurodevelopment was significantly delayed in infants with NEC at 12 mo (median general developmental quotient: 90.0 vs 97.8; p = 0.04) and 20 mo (86.4 vs 97.7; p = 0.004) of age. Somatic growth did not differ between infants with and without NEC. Fifty-five percent of infants suffering from NEC but only 22.5% of the infants without NEC were severely retarded (developmental quotient < -2 SD of a control group of healthy newborns) at 20 mo of corrected age.
Conclusion: Preterm infants developing NEC are at risk for neurodevelopmental impairment and need close neurodevelopmental follow-up for the first years of life.