Hospitalized kids infected by C. diff a growing problem

Clostridium difficile is not just hard for hospitals to control, it is growing more common. Researchers have reported that the number of hospitalized children infected by the superbug rose 15 percent each year between 1997 and 2006, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Although C. diff usually lives alongside other gut bacteria without causing ill effects, antibiotics can throw that bacterial balance off. Not surprisingly, children whose conditions required antibiotic treatment--and those with inflammatory bowel disease and suppressed immune systems--were more vulnerable to infection, according to the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog.

While the study couldn't distinguish where the kids were infected (hospital vs. community), some kids were more likely to be infected by C. diff than others. For example, children with private insurance were more likely to be infected than those on Medicaid, perhaps because they're more likely to be prescribed antibiotics for something like an ear infection, Cade Nylund, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, told the WSJ.

The study was based on 10 million children discharged from a hospital in the triennial Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database. More than 21,000 had discharge diagnoses of CDI.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract from the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
- read the Wall Street Journal blog

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