Although anyone can acquire C. diff - including children - the following are associated with increased risk:
- Taking or have recently taken antibiotics. The risk goes up if you take broad-spectrum drugs that target a wide range of bacteria.
- Being 65 years of age or older.
- Have recently been hospitalized, especially for an extended period.
- Live in a nursing home or long term care facility.
- Have a serious underlying illness or a weakened immune system as a result of a medical condition or treatment (such as chemotherapy).
- Have had abdominal surgery or a gastrointestinal procedure.
- Have a colon disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer.
- Have had a previous C. diff infection.
Recent and Increasing Risk Factors
- Acquiring C. diff when hospitalized increases a patient's risk of death three-fold. According to a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, "hospital-acquired CDI was independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death. "Across all baseline risk strata, for every 10 patients acquiring the infection, 1 person died."
- While not considered a high risk group, C. diff infections in hospitalized children increased 15% annually from 1997 to 2006; from 3,565 to 7,779.
- Increasing evidence suggests that post-partum woman may be at a higher risk of contracting C. diff.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Archives of Internal Medicine, Los Angeles Times.