Background: In the pediatric population, severe Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) sometimes occurs, but most cases are asymptomatic. The asymptomatic carriage rate in pediatric populations is reportedly higher than in the adult population. It is difficult to diagnose CDI, even if C. difficile is detected in children with diarrhea. This study aimed to evaluate the positivity rate of toxigenic C. difficile in the pediatric population with diarrhea. Methods: We collected and retrospectively analyzed gastrointestinal pathogen multiplex PCR results of 960 patients to estimate the positivity rate of toxigenic C. difficile in pediatric populations aged between 0 and 18 years. Results: The overall rate of C. difficile toxin B positivity was 10.1% in the stool samples. The positivity rate peaked in 1-year-old infants (29/153, 19.0%) and continually decreased thereafter. The positivity rate we observed was lower than the rates described in the literature. Remarkably, no C. difficile was detected in neonates. Antibiotic usage was inversely related to the positivity rate, especially in infants < 2 years of age. The odds ratio of antibiotics was 0.44 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.28–0.68; P < 0.001). The presence of concomitant gastrointestinal pathogens was not associated with toxigenic C. difficile positivity. Conclusions: Even though toxigenic C. difficile infection is neither an important nor a common cause of pediatric diarrhea, children can spread it to adults at risk of developing CDI. The pediatric population can act as hidden reservoirs for pathogenic strains in the community.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Science and ICT) (NRF-2020R1F1A1066895). The funding organization had no role in the study design, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, and manuscript writing.
© 2022, The Author(s).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases