Prevention of necrotising enterocolitis: Year 2004 and beyond

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    The incidence of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) has not changed significantly despite the dramatic advances in perinatal neonatal care. The absolute number of survivors of NEC is expected to rise, as prevention of prematurity, the single most important risk factor for the illness, continues to be difficult. Prevention of NEC has thus become an area of research priority. Given the role of inflammatory mediators in its pathogenesis newer immune modulators are being studied as potential agents for prevention/treatment of NEC. Caution, however, is warranted because the failure of sepsis trials in adults has clearly indicated that the concept of down-regulating the inflammatory response is deceptively simple. Clinical trials of any such promising preventative agent(s) need to be designed carefully and must include long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes as almost an entire population of high-risk preterm neonates will be exposed to their adverse effects. As new frontiers continue to be explored, the proven benefits of simple and safe interventions like antenatal glucocorticoid therapy and the preferential use of breast milk for feeding high-risk neonates must not be forgotten. Given that a single effective agent is unlikely in the near future, utilizing a package of "potentially better practices'' seems to be the most appropriate strategy to prevent and minimize NEC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-80
    JournalThe Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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