The prevalence rate of Chlamydia trachomatis in the vagina of prepubertal sexually abused children was examined. Additionally, the culture technique was compared to direct immunofluorescence assay (DFA) for diagnosing chlamydial infections in the vaginas of prepubertal children. The study group included 50 consecutive prepubertal girls examined for sexual abuse in an urban pediatric hospital's emergency room. Vaginal swabs were obtained for culture and direct immunofluorescence assay of C trachomatis and for gonorrhea culture. of these, 8/47 (17%) of the Chlamydia cultures, 4/43 (9.3%) of the direct immunofluorescence assay specimens, and 0/49 gonorrhea cultures were positive for Chlamydia. All patients with positive findings by direct immunofluorescence assay also had positive chlamydial cultures. Of the four other patients with positive cultures for Chlamydia, two had negative findings by direct immunofluorescence assay and two had inconclusive results reported. Twenty-nine patients had a syphilis serologic study performed, and all had negative results. There was no significant difference between the Chlamydia-positive and -negative groups with regards to age, race, nature of the abuse, frequency of abuse, and symptoms or findings on physical examination. Although not statistically significant, children with cultures positive for C trachomatis reported rectal penetration five times and vaginal penetration twice as often as those children with C trachomatis-negative results. This study demonstrates a significant prevalence of vaginal chlamydial infections in sexually abused children. Vaginal cultures for C trachomatis should be included in the medical evaluation of sexually abused girls. The culture technique was superior to the direct immunofluorescence assay in this group of patients.

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