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World TB Day 2017: 5 facts about tuberculosis in children you need to know

World TB Day 2017: 5 facts about tuberculosis in children you need to know

Did you know almost 10% of total TB cases in India are among children, but only 6% are reported?

Written by Editorial Team |Published : March 23, 2017 5:12 PM IST

World Tuberculosis Day is on 24th March and theme for this year is 'Unite to End TB: Leave No One Behind'

Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death across the globe, ranking above HIV and malaria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015, there were 10.4 million new cases of TB worldwide. Six countries account for 60% of the total TB deaths with India leading the count. As per WHO, each year about 2.2 million people develop TB in India and an estimated 220,000 die from the disease. However, what many people do not know is the fact that TB can affect children too. TB can affect any age, caste or class. Moreover, challenges in diagnosis and delayed treatment results in 2 to 7% rise in TB cases among children in India and this is the reason why the need to increase public awareness on tuberculosis among children. Here are a few points about TB in children you need to be aware of this World TB day.

#1. In 2015, an estimated 1 million children became affected with TB and 170,000 children died of TB (excluding children with HIV) worldwide. Moreover, almost 10% of total TB cases in India are among children, but only 6% are reported. Childhood TB is often not given adequate attention by healthcare providers as it is difficult to diagnose and treat. Here are 10 facts about tuberculosis (TB) you should know.

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#2. According to Dr Rahul Nagpal, Director, Pediatrics, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, New Delhi, There has been a steep rise in TB cases among children in India. In a month, I see nearly 7 to 10 new cases. It is sad to see children below the age of 5 years in the OPDs with TB, but the most unfortunate part is the lack of awareness, proper diagnosis and treatment in case of childhood TB.Theyoungest TBcase handled by me was a 1500 gm baby boy, who was born prematurely with congenital TB. I have seen other similar cases too but what makes me remember this one was that his mother had uterus TB and was unaware of it. Many people aren t aware that TB can happen anywhere and can transfer from anyone. While 60% of TB in children are pulmonary, the rest 40% are extra-pulmonary and are on the rise by 20-30% each year, with people knowing very little about it.

#3. The signs and symptoms of TB disease in children include a cough, feelings of sickness or weakness, lethargy, reduced playfulness, weight loss or failure to thrive and fever, night sweats. This is commonly seen in pulmonary TB. However, TB can affect other parts of the body, and the symptoms of TB in other parts of the body depend on the area affected. Infants, young children, and immunocompromised children (e.g., children with HIV) are at the highest risk of developing the most severe forms of TB such as TB meningitis or disseminated TB disease. Also read about 7 signs and symptoms of tuberculosis you should not ignore.

#4. A paediatric TB expert should be consulted for the treatment of TB in children and infants. It is very important that children or anyone being treated completes the course and takes the medicines exactly as instructed. The medication for children is usually prescribed according to the weight, and hence the treatment for each child needs to be customised. Taking blood repeatedly for tests is also a problem as the pain is not easy to bear for them or their parents. Here's more on DOTS and its 5 basic measures to deal with tuberculosis.

#5. It is important to know that TB is a disease which is preventable and curable. Dealing with childhood TB is difficult and crucial because there are several challenges in diagnosis and treatment. Hence, it is compulsory for children to get BCG vaccine at the time of birth. In case a child under the age of 5 years develops TB symptoms, the mantaux test, a very economical and reliable screening test in adults, is done to detect the signs. However this test may have little value in a child who has already taken the BCG vaccine.

According to Mr Sandeep Guduru, Facility Director, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, New Delhi, TB in children is ignored, goes unnoticed and is under-reported. While there are many campaigns to create awareness about pulmonary TB, we need to work more aggressively towards creating knowledge about extra-pulmonary TB cases. Also, the rise in Multi-Drug-Resistance (MDR-TB) among children has drawn very less attention of caregivers. The government and private sector healthcare providers need to come on a single platform to ensure the next generation is TB free."

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