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PURPOSE: To investigate the relationship between timing of re-introduction of feeds following surgery for Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and important early outcomes. METHODS: Secondary analysis of prospectively collected data from paediatric surgical units in UK/Ireland of infants who underwent laparotomy for NEC between 01/03/2013 and 28/02/2014. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to compare the relationship of early (≤ 7 days) and later (8-27 days) re-introduction of feeding after surgery on death or need for PN at 28 days, correcting for known cofounders. RESULTS: 41/143 infants (29%) received early and 102/143 infants (71%) had delayed reintroduction of feeding. Infants in the early feeding group had a higher gestational age at birth, higher proportion of growth restriction, lower inotrope requirement, and weremore likely to have undergone primary anastomosis. Following adjustment there was no statistically significant difference detected in the rate of death or need for PN at 28 days, adjusted OR 0.4 (95% CI 0.2-1.1), noting the limited statistical power of this comparison. CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence from this study to support a minimum period of 7 days nil by mouth post laparotomy for infants with NEC. Early feed reintroduction following laparotomy for NEC is safe in appropriate cases. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II - Treatment Study Group; Prospective comparative study.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date



Bowel rest, Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), Neonatal, Total parenteral nutrition (TPN), Treatment