Aim: To evaluate the effect of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) on growth and neurodevelopmental outcome.
Patients and methods: Neurodevelopmental outcome of 20 of 39 surviving very low birthweight infants (VLBW) diagnosed with NEC between 2007 and 2009 was compared with 40 control infants matched for gestational age and year of admission. Follow-up studies were performed at 18 and 24 months of corrected age. Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition scale was used for neurodevelopmental assessment.
Results: At 18-24 months corrected age, body weight, body length, and head circumference did not differ significantly between the NEC and without NEC groups. The median mental developmental index (62 vs. 75, p = 0.008) and psychomotor developmental index points (72 vs. 91.5, p = 0.002) were lower in infants with NEC compared to without NEC, respectively. Although the rate of neurodevelopmental impairment was slightly higher in infants with NEC, there were no differences between the groups according to the frequency of minimal impairment and cerebral palsy. Growth or neurodevelopmental outcome did not differ between the NEC survivors with and without surgery.
Conclusion: Necrotizing enterocolitis has affected neurodevelopmental outcome but not growth in VLBW infants at 18-24 months of corrected age. Both those treated medically or requiring surgery need close neurodevelopmental follow-up for the first years of life.