Pediatric cases of C. diff on the decline

Nov. 8, 2022

Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), labeled an urgent threat by federal health officials, is a bacterium that can be associated with severe gastrointestinal events and is frequently hospital-acquired.

While the incidence of C. diff infections increased from the 1990s to the early 2000s, studies looking at the rate of infections more recently in a pediatric population have not been conducted.

Maribeth Nicholson, MD, MPH, and colleagues utilized data from 42 pediatric care centers, encompassing over 17,000 pediatric patients, to determine the trends in C. diff incidence, testing and related adverse events in hospitalized children.

The team discovered that C. diff infections decreased from 2013 to 2019 along with C. diff-specific testing during that time frame. Commonly associated comorbidities were malignancy, chronic gastrointestinal conditions and immunodeficiency. 

This work, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, highlights the decrease in C. diff infections in pediatric patients, likely due to an increase in antibiotic stewardship programs and improved hospital contact protocols, as well as changes in testing practices.

Co-authors from Vanderbilt University Medical Center were Jordan D. Busing, MD, and Kathryn M. Edwards, MD. Participating institutions included Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the Children’s Hospital Association, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants DK007664 and AI156132.