New Study: Two risk factors for necrotizing enterocolitis identified

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Premature infants are at a higher risk of developing necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) which can be life-threatening. The cause of the infection remains unclear. US scientists have now identified two risk factors, which they presented in the "Journal of Pediatric Surgery".

Researchers at Loyola University in Chicago (Illinois) examined 177 premature infants (born prior to the 32nd gestation week and / or had an extremely low birth weight). Blood samples were taken within 72 hours after birth and weekly over the course of four weeks.

Fifteen children - 8.5 percent - developed necrotising enterocolitis. Of these, 93 percent had lower levels of reticulating blood platelets (RP), 60 percent had high intestinal alkaline phosphatase (iAP).

Predominantly, the low RP levels were associated with a significantly higher likelihood of developing NEC, concluded study author Jonathan Muraskas. A similar trend was observed with high iAP, but further studies were still needed. The researchers believe that based on these values, simple changes to blood transfusion practices, feeding patterns and treatment may prevent an infection.