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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Sep;57(3):293-7. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182999990.

Polymerase chain reaction test for Clostridium difficile toxin B gene reveals similar prevalence rates in children with and without inflammatory bowel disease.

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Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Clinicians often evaluate for Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) presenting with exacerbations. A highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the toxin B gene of C difficile is increasingly used to diagnose CDI. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of positive C difficile PCR results in children and young adults with and without active IBD compared with patients with non-IBD gastrointestinal disease.


Fecal samples were obtained from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC, n = 76) or Crohn disease (CD, n = 69) and 51 controls followed in our gastroenterology program. Samples were analyzed for C difficile using a PCR test for the C difficile toxin B gene (BD GeneOhm Cdiff assay). Proportions of positive tests in each group were compared using the Pearson χ2 test.


The prevalence of positive PCR results was 11.6% in patients with CD, 18.4% in patients with UC, and 11.8% in controls (P = 0.25). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of positive C difficile results among patients with IBD with and without active disease or among patients with and without diarrhea.


Positive C difficile PCR results occur with similar frequency in patients with IBD with and without active disease and in patients with other gastrointestinal diseases. A positive result in a highly sensitive PCR assay that detects low copy numbers of a toxin gene in C difficile may reflect colonization in a subset of patients with IBD, confounding clinical decision making in managing disease exacerbations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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