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How to feed a baby recovering from necrotising enterocolitis when maternal milk is not available


Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease with significant mortality and serious adverse outcomes in at least 50% including short gut and poor neurodevelopment. Research and management are complicated by a lack of robust clinical markers, and without histological confirmation, there is a risk of both underdiagnosis and overdiagnosis. Interunit variations in the thresholds for surgical referral, laparotomy and postmortem rates mean the actual incidence is difficult to determine, especially because the histological term ‘NEC’ is used in practice to describe a heterogeneous clinical syndrome. In this article, we discuss issues relating to choice of milk feed type following a clinical diagnosis of ‘NEC’ where mother’s own milk is not available. We review common clinical concerns relating to feeding following NEC and the rationale for modifications of the macronutrient composition and quality of formula milk.

  • necrotising enterocolitis
  • infant, premature
  • formula milk
  • nutrition
  • short gut

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