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C. Diff (Clostridioides Difficile) Infection in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

Clostridioides difficile, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium that causes diarrhea, irritation, and swelling of your child's colon. Antibiotic use is the most common cause of CDI. The bowel movement of a person with a CDI contains C. diff. Infected people who do not wash their hands properly after having a bowel movement can spread C. diff. The bacteria can live a long time on surfaces your child touches, such as the tops of tables.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Intake and output

may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid your child is getting. They also may need to know how much your child is urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your child's urine.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give medicine or liquids.

Contact isolation:

Measures will be taken to help prevent C. diff from spreading to other people. These measures are called contact precautions. Healthcare providers will wear gloves and a gown. You and your child's visitors will also be asked to wear gloves and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands with germ-killing soap after touching your child or leaving his or her room. Your child may be in a room by himself or herself. Anything your child uses will not be shared with others.


  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. If antibiotics caused the CDI, your child may need to stop taking them and switch to a different antibiotic.
  • Immune globulin medicine may be used to help your child's immune system if he or she has a severe CDI.


  • Blood tests may show signs of infection in your child's body or bloodstream.
  • A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy may be used to look for problems in your child's colon. A scope is a long, bendable tube with a light on the end. The scope may also have a camera on it. The scope is put into your child's anus and moved forward into the large colon. Your child's provider may also take pictures or collect samples to send to a lab for tests.
  • CT scan pictures may be used to check your child's abdomen and intestines. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the colon show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


Surgery called colectomy may be needed if your child's CDI is severe or damaged his or her colon. During surgery, part of the colon is removed.


  • Your child is at risk of dehydration if diarrhea and vomiting causes too much fluid loss. Fluid loss can also decrease or increase the amount of electrolytes in your child's body. This can cause seizures or problems with how your child's heart works. Your child's blood pressure may drop too low and he or she may faint. These problems can be life-threatening. Medicine used to treat a CDI may cause vomiting, mouth irritation, or skin rashes. The medicine may not kill enough C. diff bacteria. Your child may get a CDI again, even after treatment.
  • Without treatment, a CDI can lead to sepsis (blood infection), or an enlarged colon. Your child's colon may get damaged, or his or her kidneys may stop working. The risk of serious or life-threatening problems from a CDI is greater if your child already has other medical problems.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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