Tuberculosis in children is a very serious health concern. It should be dealt with utmost care, as TB in children is more critical and sensitive than adult TB.
Children are always at a higher risk of developing tuberculosis as they have a very weak immune system that cannot fight against the dreaded bacteria. TB diagnosis in children is quite difficult because children below the age of 10 years could not develop enough sputum that can be tested for TB diagnosis. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), TB alone kills around 1 lakh children every year worldwide.
In children, TB is diagnosed on the basis of physical symptoms such as loss of weight and occurrence of cough, and also if the child is in contact with any TB patient for a long period of time. Tuberculosis prevailing in children is called paediatric tuberculosis. Paediatric tuberculosis is quite different from adult tuberculosis as their risk factors are different f. It is not easy to cure as young child becomes resistant to BCG vaccines in course of time.
There are numerous risk factors for tuberculosis infection in children:
- Children who are in close contact with a person having TB for long period of time are at the highest risk of contracting TB.
- A child suffering from cancer, diabetes or malnutrition is also at a risk of developing tuberculosis. Children at the age below 4 years mostly get TB infection due to this.
- Children who are born in the TB endemic areas are also very prone to get this disease. They act as a carrier for the bacteria and transmit the disease. Even children exposed to HIV infected people and drug addicts are very sensitive towards TB. Native American children are at a higher risk of developing TB than Asian natives.
It’s better to prevent childhood tuberculosis than trying to curing it. One can do this by giving proper TB vaccine to the child after the birth and by breastfeeding for at least 6 months. Breast milk enhances the child’s immunity. The disease can also be prevented by keeping the child away from a TB infected person and by proper screening of the child.
TB can prove detrimental to children causing deafness, blindness and paralysis. It can cause spinal and bone deformities in children. Childhood TB can be cured more effectively by eradicating adult TB. This will directly reduce the occurrence of paediatric TB as children would be safeguarded from the airborne infection. A proper health care system especially designed for children is necessary to fight tuberculosis.
Read more articles on Understand Tuberculosis.
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