More Research is Needed on Preventing and Treating TB in Children

National conference on pediatric tuberculosis

The tuberculosis resurgence has been particularly acute for young children, especially those under the age of two. They progress from infection to active disease and death more rapidly than do other age groups, and are least able to escape the poverty and crowded housing conditions that typically foster tuberculosis.

A three-day scientific workshop on tuberculosis in children, co-sponsored with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 15 other government agencies and private health groups, was held in Atlanta, Ga., on August 1–3, 1994.

The participants—physicians, nurses, biomedical researchers, public health officials, and others interested in pediatric tuberculosis—sought to determine what is known and unknown about tuberculosis in children, to identify where more information is needed, and to develop an agenda that can serve as a guideline for public health officials, researchers, and medical practitioners.

Key Recommendations

  • There is an urgent need for research aimed at designing drug formulations specifically for children.
  • All pregnant women should be tuberculin tested and those who have tuberculosis should be treated following public health guidelines.
  • Research is needed to determine at what age children are able to generate sufficient droplets as they exhale or cough to transmit tuberculosis.
  • The CDC should undertake epidemiological studies of the relationship between HIV and tuberculosis in children, and consider requiring the reporting of tuberculosis infection (without active disease) in HIV-infected children.