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32,000 kids infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis - annually

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/24/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New study finds that only a third of the cases are ever diagnosed

The extremely worrisome strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis, or TB is making strides in new infections of the world's child population. A new report has found that as many as 32,000 children worldwide become sick each year with the new lethal strain. These alarming figures are from U.S. researchers in a study that sought to quantify rates of this difficult-to-treat form of TB.

'A huge proportion (of children) are suffering and dying from TB unnecessarily,' Helen Jenkins of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Global Health Equity says.

"A huge proportion (of children) are suffering and dying from TB unnecessarily," Helen Jenkins of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Global Health Equity says.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/24/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Drug-resistant tyuberculosis, children, infection rates


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that as many as one million children become sick with TB each year. These figures are about twice the number previously thought. Of these new cases, only a third of the cases are ever diagnosed.

"A huge proportion (of children) are suffering and dying from TB unnecessarily," Helen Jenkins of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Global Health Equity says.

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The report was published as part of a special theme issue of Lancet to commemorate World TB Day on March 24. The report gives the most comprehensive look at the global burden of tuberculosis among its youngest victims.

The report, for the first time, estimates the burden of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis or MDR-TB.

"Despite children comprising approximately one quarter of the world's population, there have been no previous estimates of how many suffer from MDR-TB disease," Dr. Ted Cohen, also of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, and co-author on the paper says.

Researchers in previous studies had largely ignored tuberculosis infections in young children, as children are less likely to transmit the disease than adults.

TB infections are especially hard to diagnose in children because the infection looks different in children than adults.

Caused by bacteria that typically attacks the lungs, it's often spread through the air when people who have an active infection cough.

Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs and is spread through the air when people who have an active infection cough.

"In kids, you are much more likely to have TB disease in other parts of the body, not necessarily in the lungs," Jenkins said.

What makes the situation more complex is that when children do have TB in their lungs, there are fewer TB pathogens present, "making kids with TB invisible" to current diagnostic methods, she said.

Jenkins and colleagues scoured publicly available databases and devised a way to correct the underreporting of TB in children.

"What we found was that whereas previous estimates for the total number of TB cases in kids were about half a million, when your account for (underreporting) in your estimates, it's more like one million children develop active TB disease every year," she said.

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