Background: Necrotizing enterocolitis is a common progressive gastrointestinal disease affecting more than 5% of very low birth weight infants and associated with a high mortality rate.
Objectives: To determine whether excessive weight gain in preterm infants is an early sign of NEC.
Methods: Seventeen preterm infants with perforated NEC were identified and matched with 17 control subjects for birth weight and gestational age. The postnatal age (days) at diagnosis of NEC was identified, and weight changes as well as clinical and laboratory data were recorded and compared for 7 days prior through 7 days post-diagnosis.
Results: A significant difference in weight gain was noticed between D-1 and D 0. The NEC and control groups gained 5.1% and 1.2%, respectively (P = 0.002). None of the sick infants lost weight on days -1 to D 0.
Conclusions: Excessive weight gain was observed in premature infants who subsequently developed NEC. Daily evaluation of weight changes should be considered part of a strategy for early identification of infants at risk for developing NEC. Future studies are needed to confirm this finding in a prospective manner and to investigate its pathogenesis.