BACKGROUND: Intestinal bile salts (BSs) may be implicated in NEC development. We hypothesized that fecal BS levels are higher in preterm infants at risk for NEC.
METHODS: We compared the composition and concentration of fecal BSs in ten preterm infants who developed NEC (Bell's Stage ≥ II) with twenty matched control infants without NEC. Conjugated and unconjugated fecal BSs were measured after birth (T1) and twice prior to NEC (T2, T3). Data are presented as medians and interquartile ranges.
RESULTS: GA and BW were similar in all preterms: ~27+4 weeks and ~1010 g. Age of NEC onset was day 10 (8-24). T1 was collected 2 (1-3) days after birth. T2 and T3 were collected 5 (5-6) days and 1 (0-2) day before NEC or at corresponding postnatal ages in controls. The composition of conjugated BSs did not differ between the two groups. Total unconjugated BSs were 3-fold higher before NEC compared to controls at corresponding ages (0.41 μmol/g feces (0.21-0.74) versus 0.14 μmol/g feces (0.06-0.46), p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Fecal BS concentrations are higher in preterm infants who develop NEC compared to infants without NEC. Further study is needed to determine the predictive value of fecal BSs in the development of NEC.
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