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Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov;108(11):1794-801. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.333. Epub 2013 Sep 24.

Proton pump inhibitors and risk for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection among inpatients.

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Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.



Observational studies suggest that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a risk factor for incident Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Data also suggest an association between PPIs and recurrent CDI, although large-scale studies focusing solely on hospitalized patients are lacking. We therefore performed a retrospective cohort analysis of inpatients with incident CDI to assess receipt of PPIs as a risk factor for CDI recurrence in this population.


Using electronic medical records, we identified hospitalized adult patients between 1 December 2009 and 30 June 2012 with incident CDI, defined as a first positive stool test for C. difficile toxin B and who received appropriate treatment. Electronic records were parsed for clinical factors including receipt of PPIs, other acid suppression, non-CDI antibiotics, and comorbidities. The primary exposure was in-hospital PPIs given concurrently with C. difficile treatment. Recurrence was defined as a second positive stool test 15-90 days after the initial positive test. C. difficile recurrence rates in the PPI exposed and unexposed groups were compared with the log-rank test. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards modeling was performed to control for demographics, comorbidities, and other clinical factors.


We identified 894 inpatients with incident CDI. The cumulative incidence of CDI recurrence in the cohort was 23%. Receipt of PPIs concurrent with CDI treatment was not associated with C. difficile recurrence (hazard ratio (HR)=0.82; 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.58-1.16). Black race (HR=1.66, 95% CI=1.05-2.63), increased age (HR=1.02, 95% CI=1.01-1.03), and increased comorbidities (HR=1.09, 95% CI=1.04-1.14) were associated with CDI recurrence. In light of a higher 90-day mortality seen among those who received PPIs (log-rank P=0.02), we also analyzed the subset of patients who survived to 90 days of follow-up. Again, there was no association between PPIs and CDI recurrence (HR=0.87; 95% CI=0.60-1.28). Finally, there was no association between recurrent CDI and increased duration or dose of PPIs.


Among hospitalized adults with C. difficile, receipt of PPIs concurrent with C. difficile treatment was not associated with CDI recurrence. Black race, increased age, and increased comorbidities significantly predicted recurrence. Future studies should test interventions to prevent CDI recurrence among high-risk inpatients.

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