JAMA Logo Hospitalized kids now seem to have significant chances of being infected with the bacteria Clostridium difficile. A latest study claims that infection of the bacteria C difficile is on a rise among hospitalized children in the United States. C difficile is known to colonize the gastrointestinal tract and pave way for infection. Some infected patients have no symptoms, but others report diarrhea, toxic megacolon perforated bowels or other potentially deadly complications.

In order to conduct the study, experts scrutinized records of hospitalized children in a national database of patients discharged from the hospital in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. The database engulfed about 10.5 million patients, of whom 21,274 forming 0.2 percent were suffering from C difficile infection. The number of cases apparently heightened by around 15 percent each year, from 3,565 in 1997 to 7,779 during 2006. Those suffering from C difficile infection probably had an increased risk of death or colectomy, longer hospital stays and higher hospitalization charges.

Scientists quote, “There may also be increasing awareness among health care providers, leading to increased testing in symptomatic patients. The population-based data in our study provide additional evidence that C difficile infection cases have a significant effect on the pediatric population. Our study supports previous reports that C difficile infection is increasing among hospitalized children and provides a background for understanding changing trends and risk factors of C difficile infection in children. Increasing awareness of these risk factors and of an upward trend in hospitalized children with C difficile infection is the first step in controlling this important infection.”

Children, who were white, lived in the West or urban areas having private insurance or co-occurring diseases, namely inflammatory bowel disease registered more chances of being infected. The risk of infection was seemingly lower among black or Hispanic children, those residing in the South, being admitted to rural hospitals, having Medicaid/Medicare insurance and the ones with self-pay or no-pay insurance status. Cade M. Nylund, M.D., of Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues did not find any rise of C difficile infection in adults. Raise in the threat of C difficile infection is possibly due to widespread dissemination of a more virulent strain from the bacteria.

The study appears online and will be published in the May print issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.