Detection of clostridioides difficile by Real-time PCR in Young Children Does Not Predict Disease

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DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2020-0012


Objectives: Diagnosing Clostridioides difficile infections in young children with high asymptomatic colonization is challenging. We compared the frequency of C difficile detection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in healthy control (HC) children with those with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and evaluated fecal-lactoferrin and organism load as possible indicators of true C difficile infection disease.

Methods: Stool was collected from children C difficile was detected by real-time PCR, and lactoferrin was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Clinical data were obtained via interviews and chart review. Mann-Whitney U test and χ2 tests were used for group comparisons.

Results: Of 524 stools collected from 524 children (250 with AGE, 274 HCs), C difficile was detected less in children with AGE (14%, 36 of 250) than in HCs (28%, 76 of 274) stools (P < .0001). Among infants n = 297), C difficile was detected in 18% of children with AGE versus 32% of HCs (P < .005), and among children 1 to 2 years old (n = 227), C difficile was detected in 10% of children with AGE versus 21% of HCs (P < .02). There was no significant difference in C difficile PCR cycle threshold values between children with AGE and HCs or lactoferrin levels in C difficile PCR-positive versus -negative stools.

Conclusions: HC children C difficile detection by PCR than children with AGE; C difficile detection by real-time PCR alone is not a reliable means to diagnose C difficile disease in childrenold.

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Hosp Pediatr





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