Clinical presentation of tuberculosis in culture-positive children


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Abstract

Background.Because tuberculosis (TB) in children implies recent infection, children serve as sentinels for disease transmission within a community. Despite the significance of diagnosing tuberculosis in children, most cases are diagnosed on clinical evidence rather than laboratory findings.Methods.We analyzed the demographic and clinical presentation of 156 children with culture proven tuberculosis using Epi-Info Version 6.Results.Although the clinical characteristics of this population were generally consistent with those seen in previous studies, several unexpected results were observed. Boys were overrepresented in the group of very young children (72% <1 year). Many of the children had coexisting diseases not known to predispose to TB (37%). Cavitation, usually observed in older children, was seen in four children ≤1 year of age. Few children were homeless or HIV-infected, but many (42%) lived in female-headed households. Of the adult contacts at risk for TB, many (49%) were recent immigrants to the US. Overall 34% of the population was either foreign born or the children of recent immigrants.Conclusions.This series of 156 culture-positive children provides an understanding of the risk factors and clinical presentation of pediatric tuberculosis. The data emphasize the impact of the child's environment on the risk for tuberculosis.

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