Study identifies groups of children at risk for TB in U.S.

A recently published study determined that three-quarters of children with tuberculosis born in the United States have lived in other countries for at least two months or have a strong international connection within their immediate family.

The study, conducted by Dr. Hal Jenson of Western Michigan School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, also showed that 66 percent of U.S.-born children with TB have at least one parent born outside of the United States.

To conduct his analysis, Jenson, who is also the Associate editor for the journal Infectious Disease Alert, examined incident cases of TB that were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2008 and 2010. Jenson said that in 2009, the CDC data began including additional epidemiological data to aid in identifying additional cases that aided his analysis.

The survey found that adolescents and children made up seven percent of all TB cases reported in the United States, with 977 in 2008, 865 in 2009 and 818 in 2010.

Traditionally, according to Jenson, African Americans born in the United States are recognized as having a higher risk for being both latently and actively infected with the illness. TB rates among African Americans are up to eight times higher than those of white Americans. The new study identifies three additional groups of children and adolescents that have an increased burden of TB infection.

U.S.-born children with foreign-born parents, foreign-borne children with U.S. borne parents and foreign born adolescents are all at increased risk.

Jenson suggested that healthcare providers document the travel and living history and clearly identify the parent's country of birth when assessing TB risk.