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C. Diff (Clostridioides Difficile) Infection in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What do I need to know about a C. diff infection (CDI)?

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.

How do C. diff spread?

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.

What increases my child's risk for a CDI?

What are the signs and symptoms of a CDI?

How is a CDI diagnosed and treated?

A CDI infection is usually not diagnosed in babies younger than 1 year. Young babies are often C. diff carriers. This means a high number of the bacteria live in the intestines without causing infection. A sample of your older child's bowel movement may be sent to a lab to be tested for C. diff. The goal of treatment is to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in your child's colon. This should help stop the diarrhea. Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. If antibiotics caused the CDI, your child may need to switch to a different antibiotic.

How can I help my child manage or prevent a CDI?

What do I need to know about correct antibiotic use?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.