Tuberculosis in Children: Challenges in Diagnosis and the Decision to Treat


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Tuberculosis in Children: Challenges in Diagnosis and the Decision to Treat


Isabel Carvalho

National Programme for Tuberculosis, Directorate-General of Health, Portugal
Pediatric Pulmonology, Pediatric Department, Centro Hospitalar de Vila Nova de Gaia / Espinho, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Pediatric Tuberculosis, Centro de Diagnóstico Pneumológico de Gaia, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal



Tuberculosis in children, especially younger children, is challenging. Symptoms are often non-specific, and the clinical and radiographic manifestations are similar to those of several other infectious diseases. Pediatricians play an important role in this process by raising awareness about tuberculosis in childhood, guarantying a prompt diagnosis, using all available laboratory tools, and ensuring adequate treatment. New guidelines have recently published the advocated changes in diagnosis methodology and drug treatment regimens and increased the chance of microbiological confirmation and treatment success accordingly. Although the discovery of each new pediatric case means a decrease in associated mortality, the focus should be primarily on identification of each child as a contact with an adult with active tuberculosis and provision of preventive treatment.