Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Neurodevelopmental impairment in necrotising enterocolitis survivors: systematic review and meta-analysis


Aim To determine (1) the incidence of neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), (2) the impact of NEC severity on NDI in these babies and (3) the cerebral lesions found in babies with NEC.

Methods Systematic review: three independent investigators searched for studies reporting infants with NDI and a history of NEC (PubMed, Medline, Cochrane Collaboration, Scopus). Meta-analysis: using RevMan V.5.3, we compared NDI incidence and type of cerebral lesions between NEC infants versus preterm infants and infants with medical vs surgical NEC.

Results Of 10 674 abstracts screened, 203 full-text articles were examined. In 31 studies (n=2403 infants with NEC), NDI incidence was 40% (IQR 28%–64%) and was higher in infants with surgically treated NEC (43%) compared with medically managed NEC (27%, p<0.00001). The most common NDI in NEC was cerebral palsy (18%). Cerebral lesions: intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) was more common in NEC babies (26%) compared with preterm infants (18%; p<0.0001). There was no difference in IVH incidence between infants with surgical NEC (25%) and those treated medically (20%; p=0.4). The incidence of periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) was significantly increased in infants with NEC (11%) compared with preterm infants (5%; p<0.00001).

Conclusions This study shows that a large proportion of NEC survivors has NDI. NEC babies are at higher risk of developing IVH and/or PVL than babies with prematurity alone. The degree of NDI seems to correlate to the severity of gut damage, with a worse status in infants with surgical NEC compared with those with medical NEC.

Trial registration number CRD42019120522.

  • brain
  • ADHD
  • neonate
  • inflammation
  • neurodevelopmental impairment

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.