Background: Delayed meconium passage, typical of premature newborns, is a predisposing condition for bowel perforation with a significant risk of morbidity and mortality. Aim of the study: A retrospective study was undertaken to verify the entity of the disease, assess the average time to meconium passage in a neonatal population of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants, and identify associated risk factors. Methods: The time of first stool passage was studied in 110 VLBW infants (weighing less than 1500g at birth). Their perinatal features, clinical course, and treatment were reviewed and studied retrospectively. Results: Delayed meconium passage was recorded in 81% of this group. Patent ductus arteriosus, mechanical ventilation and uteroplacental insufficiency were significantly associated with delayed passage. An inverse relationship between gestational age, birth weight and meconium passage was found. Bowel perforation occurred in 4.5% of this neonatal population with a mortality of 50%. Conclusions: In very low birth weight infants delay in the passage of the first stool is common. Perforation in these patients may represent a fatal event, and procedures such as daily rectal enemas, which can prevent this complication, must be applied.
- bowel obstruction
- meconium passage
- very low birth weight infants
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health