Clostridium difficile incidence in children increased significantly from 1991 through 2009. The majority of cases were community-acquired. Severe infection was more common in hospital-acquired than community-acquired cases. There were fewer treatment failures with vancomycin compared to metronidazole.
Background. The incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is increasing, even in populations previously thought to be at low risk, including children. Most incidence studies have included only hospitalized patients and are thus potentially influenced by referral or hospitalization biases.
Methods. We performed a population-based study of CDI in pediatric residents (aged 0–18 years) of Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1991 through 2009 to assess the incidence, severity, treatment response, and outcomes of CDI.
Results. We identified 92 patients with CDI, with a median age of 2.3 years (range, 1 month–17.6 years). The majority of cases (75%) were community-acquired. The overall age- and sex-adjusted CDI incidence was 13.8 per 100 000 persons, which increased 12.5-fold, from 2.6 (1991–1997) to 32.6 per 100 000 (2004–2009), over the study period (P < .0001). The incidence of community-acquired CDI was 10.3 per 100 000 persons and increased 10.5-fold, from 2.2 (1991–1997) to 23.4 per 100 000 (2004–2009) (P < .0001). Severe, severe-complicated, and recurrent CDI occurred in 9%, 3%, and 20% of patients, respectively. The initial treatment in 82% of patients was metronidazole, and 18% experienced treatment failure. In contrast, the initial treatment in 8% of patients was vancomycin and none of them failed therapy.
Conclusions. In this population-based cohort, CDI incidence in children increased significantly from 1991 through 2009. Given that the majority of cases were community-acquired, estimates of the incidence of CDI that include only hospitalized children may significantly underestimate the burden of disease in children.