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What are the risks of clostridium difficile (C. diff) during pregnancy?

There is no evidence that C. diff infection during pregnancy can harm your unborn baby. Also, C. diff infections during pregnancy are rare, as C. diff bacteria don’t usually cause problems in healthy people.

Several years ago there were reports of a few cases of C. diff infections from the 027 strain of C. diff in pregnant women. However, the 027 type of C. diff is now rare in the UK.

If you’re pregnant and have any concerns about C. diff, you can get advice from your midwife or GP. You can also call 111.

C. diff and antibiotics

C. diff bacteria are found naturally in the gut of about 3% of healthy adults. It doesn’t usually cause a problem in healthy adults or children, as the good bacteria found in the gut keep it under control.

Some antibiotics can affect the balance of the good bacteria. When this happens, C. diff can multiply and produce toxins (poisons), causing symptoms such as diarrhoea and fever. At this point, a person is said to be infected with C. diff.

C. diff infection

Once C. diff bacteria start to produce toxins, the bacteria can spread easily. C. diff infections usually happen in places where lots of people are taking antibiotics and are in close contact with each other, such as in hospitals and care homes. Older people are most at risk from infection and most cases (80%) affect people over 65, with most occurring in those aged 75 and older. Find out more about C. difficile.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:


C difficile

The symptoms of C difficile range from mild to very severe diarrhoea. Get expert advice on how to avoid it, how it spreads and treatments that can control the disease.

Media last reviewed: 07/05/2015

Next review due: 07/05/2017

Page last reviewed: 04/12/2015

Next review due: 04/12/2017