Previously, it has been recognized that increased rates of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) have been associated with viral outbreaks (eg. rotavirus, norovirus) (J Pediatr Surg. 2004;39:453–7 ,Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010l;29: 644-7.).
A more recent study (S Panesso-Gomez et al. J Pediatr 2019; 214: 34-40) examines the association between cytomegalovirus (CMV) and NEC.
- In this retrospective cohort (2000-2016) with paraffin-embedded samples, the authors detected CMV by PCR or immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 7 (4%) of 178 infants with either NEC (n=143) or spontaneous intestinal perforation (n=35).
- PCR was more sensitive and was positive in all 7 detected cases whereas IHC identified CMV in 4 of the cases.
One of the limitations of the study was the lack of a control group, though previous reports have found congenital CMV in 0.4% of preterm infants with very low birth weight (<1500 g) and in 0.5-1% of all liver births.
My take: This study shows an association between the presence of CMV and NEC; hence, CMV may be one of many factors which increase susceptibility to NEC.
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