Tuberculosis Rates for US Children Are Low and Declining

tuberculosis bacteria
Disparities in tuberculosis rates persist by race, ethnicity, and geography.

HealthDay News — Overall tuberculosis rates are low among children and adolescents and are declining steadily, according to a study published online Aug. 21 in The Lancet Public Health.

Tori L. Cowger, M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data for children younger than 15 years and teenagers aged 15 to 17 years with tuberculosis disease during 2007 to 2017.

The researchers noted 6,072 tuberculosis cases among children and adolescents during 2010 to 2017; 85 and 15 percent occurred in the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia and in U.S.-affiliated islands, respectively. Sixty-eight percent of 5,175 cases in U.S. states occurred among U.S.-born people, including 76 percent of 3,896 children and 42 percent of 1,279 adolescents. Among children and adolescents, the incidence rate was 1.0 per 100,000 person-years during 2007 to 2017; during the study period, the rate declined 47.8 percent. Disproportionately high tuberculosis rates were seen among children and adolescents of all non-white racial or ethnic groups, those residing in U.S.-affiliated islands, and children born in or with parents from tuberculosis-endemic countries.

“Strategies to eliminate tuberculosis in the USA should account for the contextual factors that markedly increase tuberculosis risk in particular populations so that disparities in tuberculosis-associated morbidity and mortality among children and adolescents do not persist or worsen, even as overall tuberculosis burden declines,” the authors write.

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