Purpose of review Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease that predominately affects premature neonates. The pathogenesis of NEC is multifactorial and poorly understood. Risk factors include low birth weight, formula-feeding, hypoxic/ischemic insults, and microbial dysbiosis. This review focuses on our current understanding of the diagnosis, management, and pathogenesis of NEC. Recent findings Recent findings identify specific mucosal cell types as potential therapeutic targets in NEC. Despite a broadly accepted view that bacterial colonization plays a key role in NEC, characteristics of bacterial populations associated with this disease remain elusive. The use of probiotics such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria has been studied in numerous trials, but there is a lack of consensus regarding specific strains and dosing. Although growth factors found in breast milk such as epidermal growth factor and heparin-binding epidermal growth factor may be useful in disease prevention, developing new therapeutic interventions in NEC critically depends on better understanding of its pathogenesis. Summary NEC is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in premature neonates. Recent data confirm that growth factors and certain bacteria may offer protection against NEC. Further studies are needed to better understand the complex pathogenesis of NEC.
- growth factors
- necrotizing enterocolitis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health