When health experts talk about Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in the news — the most common superbug that causes life-threatening diarrhea — it’s largely associated with overprescribing antibiotics to older people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Those concerns are warranted, considering about 500,000 Americans are sickened by C. diff infections and nearly 30,000 die from them annually.
However, C. diff infections are equal-opportunity offenders that can be a serious problem for young children too, according to findings published recently in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
Based on a meta-analysis of 14 studies and 10.5 million children, prior exposure to antibiotics was the main culprit, nearly doubling the risk of C. diff infections in young children, compared to kids who hadn’t taken antibiotics.
But that’s not all…
Researchers also cited exposure to heartburn drugs — better known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) — as another C. diff risk factor for children. That’s not surprising given many adults rely on them too often and for too long at the expense of disrupting the healthy balance of their gut bacteria.
A study published last fall in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection backs up this link between severe cases of C. diff related to children taking PPIs.
The concerns about PPI use are so critical and obvious that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (connected with the National Institutes of Health) felt it was important enough to devote a detailed section to treating acid reflux in children and teens.
The good news: There’s growing consensus among health experts that taking a daily probiotic can be a very safe and effective solution for preventing C. diff infections altogether.
Additionally, recent scientific evidence has shown the benefits of treating patients with probiotics made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria were very effective in preventing C. diff infections.
One safe and natural way to protect your young child from C. diff infections, especially if they are taking an antibiotic: Talk to your doctor about giving him/her a probiotic, like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for children to age 3) or EndoMune Jr. Chewable Probiotic (ages 3-8).
Both varieties of EndoMune Jr. contain four strains of beneficial bacteria, along with a prebiotic (FOS).