Read the FDA Warning about Necrotizing Enterocolitis.Necrotizing Enterocolitis is a gastrointestinal disease that frequently affects premature infants. Necrotizing Enterocolitis causes inflammation, infection, and destruction of the bowels (intestines) or part of the bowels. With Necrotizing Enterocolitis, tissue lining the wall of the intestines dies and any surviving tissue becomes swollen and inflamed. Additionally the digestive tract becomes unable to digest or transport food. Necrotizing Enterocolitis affects roughly 5% to 10% of premature babies. Necrotizing Enterocolitis generally happens within the first 2 weeks of life, usually after milk feeding has begun. About 10% of babies weighing less than 3 lbs., 5 oz. experience Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
There are a few theories as to why Necrotizing Enterocolitis exists:
- Intestinal tissues of premature infants are weakened by too little oxygen or blood flow, and when feedings are started, the extra stress of food moving through the intestine allows bacteria that are normally found in the intestine to invade and damage the wall of the intestinal tissues
- The infant is unable to continue feedings and starts to appear ill if bacteria continues to spread through the wall of the intestines and sometimes into the bloodstream. Infants may also develop imbalances in the minerals in the blood. Additionally, some experts believe that the makeup of infant formula, the rate of delivery of the formula, or the immaturity of the mucous membranes in the intestines can cause NEC.
Based upon a medical study released on February 15, 2006, drugs called H2 blockers, commonly given to premature infants to treat acid reflux, may increase their risk of developing ‘Necrotizing Enterocolitis’. Researchers at the Neonatal Research Network, part of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), conducted the study. The NICHD study established that premature infants who received H2 blockers had a 71% higher risk of developing Necrotizing Enterocolitis than infants who hadn’t been given the drugs.
The researchers stressed that they weren’t able to determine if H2 blockers actually cause ‘Necrotizing Enterocolitis’. Instead, it could be that infants likely to develop the condition may also have symptoms that require treatment with H2 blockers. However, the researchers advised caution in the use of H2 blockers in premature infants.
H2 blockers consist of over-the-counter products such as Pepcid, Tagamet, Axid, and Zantac that inhibit the production of stomach acid.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Necrotizing Enterocolitis
If your child was born premature & given H2 blocker drugs that caused Necrotizing Enterocolitis, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified drug side effects attorney or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).