C. Difficile Bacteria, Difficult Indeed

Children in hospitals increasingly exposed to dangerous bacteria

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Children admitted to hospitals across the country are becoming increasingly exposed to a bacteria that can cause severe and even fatal gastrointestinal infections.

The bacteria Clostridium difficile, which leads to gastrointestinal infections, is becoming a serious health concern for children staying in hospitals in the United States.

C. difficile may show no symptoms in some patients, but others experience diarrhea, inflammation and swelling of the large intestine, and even holes in the stomach wall and intestines. Infections related to the bacteria can even lead to death in severe cases.

In the event of serious illness, patients may have to undergo a colectomy to remove part of their colon. In extreme cases, the entire colon is removed.

Researchers in Maryland recently analyzed cases of hospitalized children across the United States starting from 1997 up until 2006, focusing on those who developed C. difficile infections. The number increased by 15 percent every year.

Children at higher risk of infection were white, resided in the West in urban areas and already had pre-existing medical conditions related to the bowels. African-American and Hispanic children, children living in the South and in rural areas were less prone to infection.

Cade M. Nylund, M.D., of Bethesda, Md., one of the authors of this study, hopes that increased awareness of the bacteria's deadly implications for children and even adults will lead to more frequent testing and prevention for C. difficile.

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Review Date: 
January 5, 2011
Last Updated:
January 5, 2011