Clostridium difficile: An Emerging Pathogen in Children
Clostridium difficile is emerging as an important enteric pathogen in children. Historically considered as an asymptomatic colonizer of the gastrointestinal tract, C. difficile infection (CDI) has not been well-studied in pediatric populations. While asymptomatic carriage remains high among infants, recent epidemiological surveillance has demonstrated a rise in the prevalence of CDI in both healthcare and community settings, particularly in children 1-5 years of age. The pathogenesis of pediatric CDI, including the factors underlying the absence of toxin-mediated effects among colonized infants, remains ill-defined. Studies suggest that traditional adult CDI risk factors such as antibiotic and healthcare exposure may not be as important for children who acquire CDI in the community. As recognition of the significant impact of CDI in children increases, the pressing need for deepening our understanding of this disease and identifying optimal therapeutic and preventative strategies is becoming apparent.