Sex differences in common childhood infections in Taiwan.
Yang TO., Huang W-T., Chen M-H., Huang K-YA., Chen P-C.
Sex differences in childhood infections are commonly reported in case-only studies. In this population-based study of 278000 Taiwanese children followed from 3 months to 18 years of age during the period 2000-2012, age-trajectories of monthly numbers of all-cause healthcare visits and monthly rates of infection-specific healthcare visits were compared between boys and girls. For all-cause healthcare visits and for healthcare visits related to conjunctivitis, respiratory tract infections, enteritis, hand, foot, and mouth disease, and herpangina, there was good resemblance of age trajectories between boys and girls. Despite this resemblance, there was evidence of a slightly higher rate in boys than in girls under age 6 years (i.e., a male tendency, or male-to-female ratio >1.0) across all diagnoses except herpangina. For urinary tract infection, where an age-specific sex difference is well reported in case-only studies, this population-based study confirmed that there was a much higher rate of kidney infection among boys than among girls during infancy, and a higher rate of kidney and bladder infection among girls than among boys after this period. The age-specific sex difference in urinary tract infections was so strong that the age trajectories in boys and girls were qualitatively different. This report confirms previously reported sex differences in other countries, whilst placing this in the context of age dynamics in childhood infection.