HealthDay News — Antibiotics prescribed in outpatient settings are linked with a majority of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection cases in children, according to a study published online in Pediatrics.

Researchers found that 71% of cases of C. difficile infection among American children aged 1 to 17 years occurred shortly after they took antibiotics that were prescribed in outpatient offices to treat other conditions. Most of the children received antibiotics for issues such as ear, sinus or upper respiratory infections.

Previous research has shown that at least 50% of antibiotics prescribed to children in outpatient settings are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, CDC researchers said in a press release.

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About 17,000 children aged 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year, according to the CDC. This study found no difference in the incidence of C. difficile infections among boys and girls. It did show, however, that white children and those aged 12 to 23 months are at greatest risk for such infections.

“Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in the news release. “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections.”


  1. Wendt JM et al. Pediatrics. 2014. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3049.