Incidence of spontaneous intestinal perforations exceeds necrotizing enterocolitis in extremely low birth weight infants fed an exclusive human milk-based diet: A single center experience

Published:September 30, 2020DOI:



      Spontaneous intestinal perforation (SIP) and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) are complications of extremely low birth weight (ELBW, ≤1000 g) infants. ELBW infants at Texas Children's Hospital receive an exclusive human milk-based diet, which has been associated with a reduction of NEC.


      1) Assess incidence of SIP and NEC (Stage II or greater) in ELBW infants receiving 100% human milk-based diet, 2) Describe mortality rates of ELBW infants with SIP and NEC.


      Prospective single-center observational cohort study of ELBW infants born between 2010 and 2014 with SIP or NEC (exclusion: congenital anomalies and death within 48 h).


      Of 379 ELBW infants, 345 were eligible. Of these, 28 (8.1%) had SIP and 8 (2.3%) had NEC (medical n = 1, surgical n = 7). SIP infant mortality was 32% (n = 9) compared to 63% (n = 5) for NEC patients. Of SIP infants with PD (n = 25), 52% required subsequent exploratory laparotomy (LAP). Of NEC infants with peritoneal drainage (PD) (n = 2), both required subsequent LAP.


      Using an exclusive human milk-based diet, the incidence of SIP exceeds NEC in ELBW infants at our institution. This shows a changing trend in the incidence of these two diagnoses in the era of human milk, as NEC had previously been more prevalent in ELBW infants. More than half of infants who initially received PD later required LAP. There were no differences in survival outcomes in both SIP and NEC groups based on surgical management.


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