University of Hertfordshire

Comparison of pediatric and adult antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infections

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Lynne Vernice McFarland
  • Metehan Ozen
  • Ener Cagri Dinleyici
  • Shan Goh
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3078-104
Number of pages27
JournalWorld journal of gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2016


Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) have been well studied for adult cases, but not as well in the pediatric population. Whether the disease process or response to treatments differs between pediatric and adult patients is an important clinical concern when following global guidelines based largely on adult patients. A systematic review of the literature using databases PubMed (June 3, 1978-2015) was conducted to compare AAD and CDI in pediatric and adult populations and determine significant differences and similarities that might impact clinical decisions. In general, pediatric AAD and CDI have a more rapid onset of symptoms, a shorter duration of disease and fewer CDI complications (required surgeries and extended hospitalizations) than in adults. Children experience more community-associated CDI and are associated with smaller outbreaks than adult cases of CDI. The ribotype NAP1/027/BI is more common in adults than children. Children and adults share some similar risk factors, but adults have more complex risk factor profiles associated with more co-morbidities, types of disruptive factors and a wider range of exposures to C. difficile in the healthcare environment. The treatment of pediatric and adult AAD is similar (discontinuing or switching the inciting antibiotic), but other treatment strategies for AAD have not been established. Pediatric CDI responds better to metronidazole, while adult CDI responds better to vancomycin. Recurrent CDI is not commonly reported for children. Prevention for both pediatric and adult AAD and CDI relies upon integrated infection control programs, antibiotic stewardship and may include the use of adjunctive probiotics. Clinical presentation of pediatric AAD and CDI are different than adult AAD and CDI symptoms. These differences should be taken into account when rating severity of disease and prescribing antibiotics.


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