The long-term outcome of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants with necrotizing enterocolitis has been reported to be similar to that of other VLBW infants. To examine the influence of disease severity on outcome, the growth and neurodevelopment of survivors of necrotizing enterocolitis were evaluated when the babies were 20 months' corrected age. Between 1975 and 1983, 1506 VLBW infants were admitted to the hospital, and necrotizing enterocolitis developed in 84 (5.6%). Forty infants (48%) survived to be 20 months' corrected age, and complete follow-up data were available for 36. Survivors were classified by modified Bell's criteria into four groups by increasing severity of disease; 13 had mild necrotizing enterocolitis (stage IIA, IIB), and 23 had severe necrotizing enterocolitis (stage IIIA, IIIB). The 36 survivors were compared with 766 surviving VLBW infants without necrotizing enterocolitis. There were no perinatal or socioeconomic differences between groups. Compared with infants with stage II necrotizing enterocolitis at 20 months, infants with stage III necrotizing enterocolitis had a higher rate of subnormal body weight (39% vs 15%) and subnormal head circumference (30% vs 0%). Thirty-three percent of necrotizing enterocolitis survivors had significant neurodevelopmental impairment; the majority of impaired infants (10 of 12) were survivors of stage III necrotizing enterocolitis. These findings highlight the importance of continued evaluations for medical and neurodevelopmental sequelae.
- Received October 3, 1988.
- Accepted November 18, 1988.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics