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Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is more common at earlier gestational ages. We sought to evaluate the neonatal and infant mortality of NEC by gestational age.
A retrospective cohort of infants delivered in California was stratified by gestational age and assessed for the presence or absence of death in infants within one year of life. These infants were then analyzed by the presence or absence of NEC.
When we examined the mortality by gestational age in infants with and without NEC, it was associated with increased mortality at 26 weeks and beyond (Table). However, the difference in mortality between those with and without NEC increased with increasing gestational age.
While NEC is associated with mortality, this association increases with gestational age. At earlier gestational ages, infants without NEC also have a high neonatal mortality rate. However, at later gestational ages the mortality rate for infants with necrotizing enterocolitis remains high even in term infants. Until treatment for nectrotizing enterocolitis has improved, the prognosis for this condition, regardless of gestational age, is poor.