Spontaneous intestinal perforation – or SIP – refers to when a hole occurs in a baby’s intestine during or soon after fetal development for no known reason. The hole can cause the intestine contents to leak into their abdomen (belly), which can lead to a serious infection known as peritonitis (inflammation of the abdomen lining). SIP is a surgical emergency and once diagnosed, it should be treated as soon as possible.

Symptoms of SIP

Signs and symptoms of SIP can include:

  • Shock (life-threatening condition caused by decreased blood flow) symptoms, such as cold, clammy skin, rapid heart rate and irregular breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Discoloration of skin on the belly
  • Distended (swollen) belly
  • Fever
  • Pulling legs up (due to abdominal pain)
  • Shivering (due to chills)

When to see a doctor

If your child shows any signs or symptoms of SIP, you should take them to the closest emergency department.

Causes of SIP

Experts don’t know what causes SIP.

Who’s at risk

Babies born at 36 weeks of pregnancy or earlier (“preemies”) or who have a very low birth weight are at an increased risk of being born with SIP.

Find a Location

Find the closest ER to you

If you suspect that your child may have a spontaneous intestinal perforation, or SIP, find the closest emergency room to you so your child can start on the road to improved health.