The Relevance of Immunoglobulin in the Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

  • H. M. Wolf
  • Martha M. Eibl
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 310)


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe acquired gastrointestinal disease and an important cause of morbidity and mortality among stressed low-birth-weight infants in neonatal intensive care units. Although prematurity is the primary risk factor for NEC, it is generally accepted that the pathogenesis of the disease is multifactorial, and a combination of immaturity of the host’s gastrointestinal defense mechanisms, intestinal ischemia, and colonization of the gut by infectious agents leads to the development of the disease1. NEC develops in 2 to 7% of premature infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit2. Early abdominal signs indicative of NEC include abdominal distension, diarrhea, gastric retention, emesis, and macroscopic or occult gastrointestinal bleeding. When the disease progresses to unstable stage with vital signs that resemble sepsis, perforation of the intestine or an obstruction pattern on abdominal radiograph, patients require aggressive medical and/or surgical therapy. Histologically the disease, affecting primarily the terminal ileum and ascending colon, is characterized by coagulation necrosis of mucosa and submucosa, inflammation, ulceration, peritonitis, and intramural gas-filled cysts (i.e. pneumatosis intestinalis)3.


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Stool Sample Clostridium Difficile Necrotizing Enterocolitis Control Infant 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Wolf
    • 1
  • Martha M. Eibl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ImmunologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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