Clostridium difficile, a nasty, infectious disease that tends to spread in hospitals, is cropping up in more U.S. children, researchers reported Monday. The infection can cause diarrhea, inflammation of the colon and even severe complications, such as bowel perforation.
Clostridium difficile is far more common in adults, especially the elderly. But researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center analyzed records of hospitalized children at various points from 1997 to 2006. Overall, only 0.2% of the patients in the database had Clostridium difficile. But the number increased about 15% each year -- from 3,565 cases in 1997 to 7,779 in 2006. Children with the infection had longer hospitalizations compared with those who didn't have the infection and also had higher death rates and more surgeries to remove a part of the colon.