Preventing necrotizing enterocolitis

The best way to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis is to take steps to prevent a premature birth because about 90% of cases of necrotizing enterocolitis occur in premature infants. You can do this by:

  • Getting prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.
  • Maintaining good control of your blood sugar levels if you have gestational diabetes.
  • Not smoking.
  • Not using cocaine or methamphetamine.
  • Eating healthy foods and following your doctor's suggestions about weight gain, especially at the end of your pregnancy.

Once your baby is born, you can help prevent necrotizing enterocolitis by feeding your baby breast milk, if possible. Necrotizing enterocolitis is much less common in babies who are fed breast milk.1


  1. Piazza AJ, Stoll BJ (2007). Digestive system disorders. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 753–756. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Last Updated: May 5, 2009

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