IBD Raises Risk of Getting C. Diff Again

Medically Reviewed

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at increased risk for acquiring antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile infection. C. diff is a bacterium that causes inflammation of the colon (colitis).

New research shows they are also 33 percent more likely to experience a recurrence of the disease compared to the general population, often more than six months after the onset of their initial infection.

To analyze the risk factors for recurrent C. diff infection in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, researchers in Canada analyzed outcomes in infected patients with and without IBD. The results were published online in the American Journal of Gastorenterology in May 2016.

They also looked at the differences between IBD patients who had a single episode of C. diff infection and those who experienced a recurrence.

Compared with the general population of recurrent C. diff patients, those with IBD tended to have their recurrence much later after their initial episode, at a mean of 157 days compared with 76.

IBD patients were also more likely to undergo a colectomy (removal of part of the colon) as a result of C. diff infection, although less likely to die from the infection. No deaths were seen in the patients with IBD, compared with 48 (12 percent) of those without IBD.

As for differences between single-episode and recurrent C. diff infection in IBD patients, there was an association between recurrent C. diff infection and exposure to drugs commonly used to treat IBD, such as steroids, 5-aminosalicylic acids (mesalamine), and biologics.