Severe neurodevelopmental disability and healthcare needs among survivors of medical and surgical necrotizing enterocolitis: A prospective cohort study



      This study characterizes neurodevelopmental outcomes and healthcare needs of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) survivors of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) compared to ELBW infants without NEC.


      Data were collected prospectively on neonates born 22–27 weeks’ gestation or 401–1000 g at 47 Vermont Oxford Network member centers from 1999 to 2012. Detailed neurodevelopmental evaluations were conducted at 18–24 months corrected age. Information regarding rehospitalizations, postdischarge surgeries, and feeding was also collected. “Severe neurodevelopmental disability” was defined as: bilateral blindness, hearing impairment requiring amplification, inability to walk 10 steps with support, cerebral palsy, and/or Bayley Mental or Psychomotor Developmental Index <70. Diagnosis of NEC required both clinical and radiographic findings.


      There were 9063 children without NEC, 417 with medical NEC, and 449 with surgical NEC evaluated. Significantly higher rates of morbidity were observed among infants with a history of NEC. Those with surgical NEC were more frequently affected across all outcome measures at 18–24 months corrected age: 38% demonstrated severe neurodevelopmental disability, nearly half underwent postdischarge operations, and a quarter required tube feeding at home.


      At 18–24 months, extremely low birth weight survivors of necrotizing enterocolitis were at markedly increased risk (p < 0.001) for severe neurodevelopmental disability, postdischarge surgery, and tube feeding.

      Level of evidence

      II (prospective cohort study with <80% follow-up rate).

      Key words

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