The aetiology of paediatric inflammatory vulvovaginitis

Eur J Pediatr. 2004 Feb;163(2):105-7. doi: 10.1007/s00431-003-1373-x. Epub 2003 Dec 4.


Vulvovaginitis is the most common gynaecological problem in prepubertal girls and clear-cut data on the microbial aetiology of moderate to severe infections are lacking. Many microorganisms have been reported in several studies, but frequently the paediatrician does not know the pathogenic significance of an isolate reported in vaginal specimens of girls with vulvovaginitis. A multicentre study was performed, selecting 74 girls aged 2 to 12 years old with a clinical picture of vulvovaginitis and inflammatory cells on Gram stain. All the specimens were cultured following standard microbiological techniques and the paediatricians completed a questionnaire to highlight risk factors after interviewing the parents or tutors. The data were compared with those obtained in a control group of 11 girls without vulvovaginitis attending a clinic. Streptococcus pyogenesand Haemophilus spp.were isolated in 47 and 12 cases, respectively. Upper respiratory infection in the previous month ( P<0.001) and vulvovaginitis in the previous year ( P<0.05) were identified as significant risk factors. Foreign bodies, sexual abuse, poor hygiene and bad socioeconomic situation were not identified as risk factors for the infection.

Conclusion: Paediatric inflammatory vulvovaginitis is mainly caused by pathogens of the upper respiratory tract and the most common risk factor for this infection is to have suffered an upper respiratory tract infection in the previous month.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vulvovaginitis / etiology*
  • Vulvovaginitis / microbiology