Paediatric bone and joint infections are more common in boys and toddlers: a national epidemiology study

Acta Paediatr. 2013 Mar;102(3):e120-5. doi: 10.1111/apa.12115. Epub 2012 Dec 29.


Aim: Little is known about bone and joint infections (BJIs) in children, despite the risk of growth disturbance. This study examined BJIs epidemiology using the French National Hospital Discharge Database (HD).

Methods: Any child <15 years hospitalized with an HD diagnosis of BJI, alone or in combination with sepsis or orthopaedic procedure, was included. The majority of BJIs (96%) were haematogenic infections. We conducted descriptive analyses to evaluate epidemiological and economic outcomes of paediatric haematogenic BJIs.

Results: There were 2592 paediatric patients with 2911 BJI hospitalizations and an overall incidence of 22 per 100 000. BJIs occurred more frequently in boys than girls (24 vs 19 per 100 000) and in toddlers. Septic arthritis (52%) and osteomyelitis (44%) were the most frequent infections, 16.6% of patients had a micro-organism coded (61% were Staphylococci) and 13% of had comorbidities. The mean hospital stay was 8.6 days, costing approximately €5200 per BJI stay.

Conclusion: This national study of paediatric BJIs in France showed a higher prevalence in toddlers and boys and demonstrated that the HD database can be used to study BJIs. However, the number of BJI cases was maybe overestimated by coding reactive arthritis as septic arthritis in the absence of bacterial evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Diseases, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Bone Diseases, Infectious / microbiology
  • Bone Diseases, Infectious / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Joint Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Joint Diseases / microbiology*
  • Joint Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors