Aims: To compare the effect of fasting period duration on complication rates in neonates managed conservatively for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) Bell stage II.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter study to analyze retrospectively multiple data collected by standardized questionnaire on all admissions for NEC between January 2000 and December 2006. NEC was staged using modified Bell criteria. We divided the conservatively managed neonates with NEC Bell stage II into two groups (those fasted for <5 days and those fasted for >5 days) and compared the complication rates.
Results: Of the 47 conservatively managed neonates Bell stage II, 30 (64%) fasted for <5 days (range 1–4 days) and 17 (36%) for >5 days (range 6–16 days). There were no significant differences for any of the patient characteristics analyzed. One (3%) and four (24%) neonates, respectively, developed post-NEC bowel stricture. One (3%) and two neonates (12%) suffered NEC relapse. None and five (29%) neonates developed catheter-related sepsis.
Conclusion: Shorter fasting after NEC appears to lower morbidity after the acute phase of the disease. In particular, shorter-fasted neonates have significantly less catheter-related sepsis. We found no benefit in longer fasting.