BACKGROUND: Reintroduction of enteral nutrition in neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) should take place when the gut is ready for its normal function. Too early a start of oral feeding might lead to disease relapse, whereas prolonged discontinuation of enteral nutrition is associated with impaired gut function and parenteral nutrition-related complications. This study evaluated whether noninvasive urinary measurement of intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) at the time of refeeding can predict clinical outcome in neonates with NEC.
METHODS: Urinary I-FABP concentrations were measured in 21 infants with NEC just before reintroducing enteral nutrition. Poor outcome was defined as unsuccessful reintroduction of enteral feeding (EF), (re)operation for NEC, or death related to NEC after reintroduction of EF.
RESULTS: Median urinary I-FABP levels in neonates with poor outcome (n = 5) were significantly higher as compared with I-FABP levels in neonates with good outcome (n = 16) (P <0.01). A clinically significant cutoff value of 963 pg/ml was found to discriminate between infants with poor outcome and those with good outcome (sensitivity 80%, specificity 94%).
CONCLUSION: Noninvasive urinary I-FABP measurement at time of refeeding differentiates neonates with poor outcome from neonates with good outcome in NEC. Urinary I-FABP measurement may therefore be helpful in the timing of EF in neonates with NEC.