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DOI: 10.1186/s13099-023-00572-x; PMCID: PMC10561448


BACKGROUND: Cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA) is one of the most common types of food allergy in infants. Faecal pathogen cultures showed that the positive rate of Clostridium perfringens was more than 30%, which was significantly higher than that for other bacteria. Therefore, it is speculated that Clostridium perfringens colonization may be one of the pathogenetic factors for CMPA in infants. We conducted a real-world evidence study. Infants aged 0-6 months with diarrhoea and mucoid and/or bloody stools were recruited from a large tertiary hospital in China. Faecal pathogen cultures for the detection of Clostridium perfringens were confirmed by flight mass spectrometry, and potential toxin genes were identified using PCR. After 12 months of follow-up, the diagnoses of CMPA and food allergy were recorded. The correlation was assessed by Pearson correlation analysis.

RESULTS: In this study, 358 infants aged 0-6 months with gastrointestinal symptoms and faecal pathogen cultures were recruited. A total of 270 (44.07% girls; mean age, 2.78 ± 2.84 months) infants were followed up for 12 months. Overall, the rate of positivity for Clostridium perfringens in faecal pathogen cultures was 35.75% (128/358) in infants aged ≤ 6 months. The earliest Clostridium perfringens colonization was detected within 2 days after birth. The majority of Clostridium perfringens isolates were classified as type C in 85 stool samples. In the Clostridium perfringens-positive group, 48.21% (54/112) of infants were clinically diagnosed with food allergies after 12 months, including 37.5% (42/112) with CMPA, which was significantly higher than that of the negative group, with 7.59% (12/158) exhibiting food allergies and 5.06% (8/158) presenting CMPA (P < 0.0001). Faecal Clostridium perfringens positivity was significantly correlated with CMPA, food allergy, faecal occult blood, faecal white blood cells, antibiotic use, increased peripheral blood platelet counts, and decreased haemoglobin levels (P < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that intestinal colonization by Clostridium perfringens is common in infants. The majority of Clostridium perfringens isolates are classified as type C. Colonization of the intestine by Clostridium perfringens is associated with the development of CMPA and food allergy in infants.

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Gut Pathog





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Clostridium perfringens; Cow's milk protein allergy; Food allergy; Infants


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