Objective: To assess the effect of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) on neurodevelopmental outcome.
Methodology: Neurodevelopmental outcome of 20 very low birthweight (VLBW) infants who developed NEC requiring surgery was compared with 40 matched infants controlled for gestation, birthweight, and year of admission. Twenty-nine VLBW infants who developed NEC and did not require surgery were also compared.
Results: Infants with NEC needing surgery were of 26 +/- 2 weeks gestation and weighted 892 +/- 192 g at birth. Infants with NEC managed medically were of higher gestation (27 +/- 2 weeks) but similar birthweights. More infants with NEC requiring surgery required inotropic support. At follow up, NEC surgery infants had a significantly higher incidence of developmental morbidity. 11 of 20 compared with 11 of 40 matched controls (Fisher's exact test P = 0.0493), and six of 29 infants with NEC managed medically (Fisher's exact test P = 0.0174).
Conclusions: These findings stress the importance for close follow up for neurodevelopmental sequelae in VLBW infants who have had NEC requiring surgery.