Update on trends in childhood tuberculosis

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Purpose of reviewAlthough tuberculosis (TB) causes much morbidity and mortality in children, diagnosis and treatment remain challenging. Recently, children have gained increasing attention in research and clinical trials driving improved contact management, case identification and treatment of both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB. This review highlights some recent advances.Recent findingsThe tuberculin skin test is the most widely used test to distinguish Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) infection from active TB, however, using M. tuberculosis-specific, antigenic stimulation of CD4 and CD8 cells appear more effective. The use of Xpert MTB/RIF to identify M. tuberculosis in clinical samples, together with novel sampling methods have in part, overcome the difficulty of sampling and increased case identification capacity. Advances in treating both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant childhood TB show promise in being more paediatric friendly and improving adherence. Dosing strategies for drug-sensitive TB have improved with dispersible fixed drug combinations now available. In the treatment and prevention of drug-resistant TB, however, research involving the use of newer and more effective drugs currently recommended for adults, are still ongoing in children.SummaryThe World Health Organization aims to end the TB epidemic by 2035 whereas the United Nations’ Sustainable Developmental Goals sets this ambitious target for 2030. Therefore, adequate funding and implementing effective national TB programs must be prioritized, particularly in high-burden, low-income settings.

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