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Your baby suffers from necrotizing enterocolitis. What is it?

When you got pregnant, you probably had visions of satisfying food cravings, going to doctors' appointments and buying new clothes. Your thoughts may have gone directly from pregnancy to holding your newborn child while completely skipping over the potential for complications and the birthing process.

You certainly aren't alone. Most women would probably not think about the things that could go wrong while focusing on everything that could go right. The prospect of having a premature baby may not be as scary as it once was, but it could still result in dangerous health repercussions for your child, and your doctor may bear some responsibility in it.

One such complication: necrotizing enterocolitis

Premature babies risk suffering from a serious, but common, intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis, which can cause intestinal tissue to die and even an intestinal wall perforation. In either case, the bowels can no longer hold waste, the bacteria leeches into the body and a serious infection threatens your premature baby's life. Causes postulate to include the following:

  • Lack of oxygen or blood flow to the intestine during birth or after
  • An underdeveloped intestine
  • Heavy bacterial growth in the intestine
  • Injured intestinal lining
  • Bacterial or viral intestinal infections
  • Failure to breastfeed

Premature babies suffering from this condition exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Feeding trouble
  • Green vomit due to bile
  • Diarrhea
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Possible bloody or dark stools
  • Constipation
  • Unstable or low body temperature
  • Swollen, tender or red belly
  • Lethargic
  • Less active
  • Food remains in your baby's stomach too long
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Low blood pressure

A doctor could easily mistake these symptoms for another digestive issue. If your doctor fails to thoroughly investigate them, your child could suffer needlessly. Doctors use X-rays to identify the condition. The treatment requires close monitoring, including frequent exams and X-rays. Any misstep by doctors at this point could cause significant harm to your child.

Other issues

In addition to diagnostic and treatment issues, doctors also need to monitor for infection. Newborns could suffer substantial harm from infections, but if they turn into sepsis, matters could become even worse. If you suspect the doctors charged with caring for and healing your child appeared to fail in that endeavor, you may want to explore the possibility that a medical malpractice claim would be appropriate.

Your baby deserves the best start in life possible despite being premature, and if you believe your child received substandard care, you may pursue compensation that could help with current and future medical care and needs.

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