Laboratory Findings

Blood and peritoneal fluid cultures will yield organisms of enteric origin in about one-fourth of patients. Yeast may be isolated from peritoneal fluid, especially in infants who had been treated with antimicrobials. In the event of an outbreak in a nursery, it is important to evaluate both cases and matched concurrent controls. Viruses can be detected antigenically or through genetic methods. In some infants, the white blood count may be very low or very high and the platelet count usually will be diminished and falling rapidly. At least 50% of infants with NEC have platelet counts of 50,000 per millimeter or less (45). Prothrombin and partial thromboplastin times are elevated. Hyponatremia is common at the outset of NEC.

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