TB Strikes Planet's Kids Twice as Hard as Thought

New study finds up to 1M kids are hit with tuberculosis each year
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2014 7:40 AM CDT
TB Strikes Planet's Kids Twice as Hard as Thought
A tuberculosis patient shows his X-ray at his house in Kotawa village, Varanasi, India.   (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Today is World TB Day, and its arrival is met with some gloomy new estimates about the presence of tuberculosis among the world's kids. A study published in Lancet has found that as many as 1 million children under age 15 are hit with TB each year, reports the Wall Street Journal. That's double the previously established estimate, and some two-thirds of all cases go undiagnosed. The Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers were also able to for the first time put a number on the instances of what Reuters terms a "drug-resistant 'superbug' strain" of TB: MDR-TB. As many as 32,000 kids across the globe become sick with that form each year.

Reuters notes that researchers have historically focused more on TB in adults, for a duo of reasons: Adults are more likely to pass on the disease; and the diagnosis methods used on adults don't always work on kids, in part because up to 30% of children who develop TB do so somewhere other than their lungs. But the attention is shifting to children in part because of what they can reveal about the transmission of the disease among adults: TB develops much more rapidly in children, signalling the presence of the disease in their adult family members or community. "These 1 million children are missed opportunities for preventing TB every year," says the co-senior author of the study. (More tuberculosis stories.)

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