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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;764:57-72.

Clostridium difficile in children: a review of existing and recently uncovered evidence.

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  • 1Academic Unit of Clinical & Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, Southampton, UK.


The clinical significance of the presence of Clostridium difficile in children's faeces remains uncertain using current diagnostic procedures. Clostridium difficile is a relatively common finding in infants with no symptoms of gastrointestinal disease, suggesting it may be an incidental finding and form part of the normal gut micro-flora in this age group. On the other hand, particularly in older children or those with significant co-morbidity, there are examples where C. difficile causes disease and exerts considerable morbidity and even mortality (C. difficile infection, CDI). Between these extremes lie a substantial group of children who have both diarrhoea and C. difficile in their stools but where the nature of the association is not clear: Clostridium difficile associated disease (CDAD). We review the significance of C. difficile in children presenting recently uncovered paediatric data from a large UK epidemiological study that informs some key unanswered questions.

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