Conquering NEC, step by step.


12 October 2017

Neonatology is a baby science (pun intended!). While other areas of medicine boast of centuries of history and discovery, neonatology as a specialised branch of medicine is only about six decades old. While we have achieved major breakthroughs in some areas like breathing support for babies, in others the progress has been quite slow. Out of all these areas of neonatal care, the most frustrating has been necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

NEC is now the most important cause of death and long-term morbidity in preterm newborns. It is a devastating illness that can shock and surprise clinicians and parents alike. Anyone who has spent enough time on a neonatal unit will vouch to the catastrophic nature of this illness. Unlike most other conditions we deal with, we don’t have a good enough understanding of what causes it, let alone what we can do to prevent it, treat it, cure it.

It was this exasperation that led me, through my inner path of hope, and guided by my quality improvement and safety interests, to set up a special interest group for NEC (SIGNEC) in 2012. It was initially set up as a UK group, but has now blossomed into an international group.

SIGNEC was founded to facilitate networking, collaborations for research and improvements in practice. The annual international conference of SIGNEC has become a focal point of the annual calendar for clinicians and researchers interested in NEC.

It not only brings together neonatologists, paediatricians, surgeons, dietitians, transfusion medicine specialists, epidemiologists, basic science researchers, nurses, advanced neonatal nurse practitioners, trainees and other healthcare professionals with an interest in NEC and health improvement. More importantly, it brings these professionals together along with parents of babies who have suffered from NEC and charities which help support families. This has been one of the most distinguishing features of SIGNEC conferences. Unlike most other scientific meetings, SIGNEC conferences provide that critical interaction and platform for mutual learning between parents, families and professionals. This is, perhaps, why SIGNEC has been well acclaimed nationally and internationally.

While the progress of SIGNEC has been encouraging, we are eager to further support clinicians and parents. The development of a SIGNEC website has been on our mind for a while, so it gives me great satisfaction in sharing our first step forward in this direction. The SIGNEC website has been born largely through the efforts of Joanne Ferguson who sadly lost Guy, one of her twin sons, to NEC. She has supported SIGNEC right from its inception, and we hope the website will be useful to both healthcare professionals and babies’ families. It is a ‘first step’, a work-in-progress, and we encourage you all to feedback and suggest ideas and improvements for the future. Please share with us anything that may be useful and relevant to NEC. We will use the website to coordinate our future efforts and showcase important national and international work. We will be working closely with various national and international groups so that, rather than duplicating, we supplement and complement each other’s work.

Please get involved with SIGNEC and make a difference to neonatal outcomes by sharing your ideas and passion for improvement and contributing your expertise. To conquer NEC, we need you!

Prof (Dr.) Minesh Khashu FRCPCH, FRSA
Consultant Neonatologist &
Prof. of Perinatal Health

Q Fellow (Q Foundation & NHS Improvement)
International Fellow, England Centre for Practice Development

Founder, SIGNEC


Prof (Dr.) Minesh Khashu FRCPCH, FRSA

Prof (Dr.) Minesh Khashu FRCPCH, FRSA

Consultant Neonatologist & Prof. of Perinatal Health

Make a difference by sharing your thoughts and passion and contributing your expertise.