High pulmonary TB incidence recorded in Ugandan children with severe pneumonia

The high prevalence of pulmonary TB among children admitted to hospitals in Uganda with severe pneumonia highlights the need for TB screening in children, according to a recent study.

While a high incidence of TB in children presenting with severe pneumonia was previously reported in South Africa, little was known about the disease among children in Uganda and other countries with limited resources. Josephine M. Nantongo and her team used a cross-sectional study at a Ugandan national referral and teaching hospital to screen children for TB, BioMedCentral reports.

The research team screened children hospitalized in Uganda between the ages of two months and 12 years of age with severe pneumonia between February 2011 and June 2011. Children with prior TB diagnoses or who received anti-TB treatment were excluded from the study.

Nantongo's team used the tuberculin skin test, chest X-rays, induced sputum samples and blood culture to test the children for disease. Of the 270 children recruited during the study, the rate of pulmonary TB in children admitted with severe pneumonia was 18.9 percent. Children under the age of five were more likely to have pulmonary TB than children over five.

The authors of the study determined that the high burden of TB in Ugandan children with severe pneumonia demonstrated a need for TB screening in children with pneumonia symptoms. Such screening could improve TB case finding and child mortality, BioMedCentral reports.

The study was published in the journal BMC Pediatrics.