Long-Term Outcome of Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Spontaneous Intestinal Perforation

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Objectives: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and spontaneous intestinal perforation (SIP) are complications in preterm infants associated with high morbidity, mortality, impaired growth, and neurodevelopmental (ND) outcomes. Few studies have reported growth or ND outcomes of infants born extremely preterm with NEC/SIP beyond early childhood. Here, we compared anthropometric and ND outcomes, at 10 and 15 years, for children with medical NEC, surgical NEC, SIP, and neither NEC nor SIP.

Methods: Participants from the prospective longitudinal extremely low gestational age newborns study were evaluated at ages 10 and 15 years for anthropometrics, neurocognition, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, and gross motor function.

Results: At age 10 years, 889 children were followed-up (medical NEC = 138, surgical NEC = 33, SIP = 29, no NEC/SIP = 689), and 694 children were followed up-at 15 years. Children with medical NEC had similar weight, BMI, height, and head circumference compared with controls at both 10 and 15 years. At 15 years, children with surgical NEC had lower weight z-score (adjusted β: -0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -1.25 to -0.25), lower BMI z-score (adjusted β: -0.55, 95% CI: -1.09 to -0.01), and lower height z-score (adjusted β: -0.65, 95% CI: -1.16 to -0.14). Children with SIP had lower weight and height z-scores at age 10 years when adjusted for sample attrition, but these differences were not significant when adjusted for confounders. We observed no differences in long-term ND outcomes.

Conclusions: Surgical NEC- and SIP-associated growth impairment may persist through late childhood. ND outcomes among school-aged children born extremely preterm with any NEC or SIP are no different from children without NEC/SIP.