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Managing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in children: review of recent developments

Schaaf, H. Simona; Garcia-Prats, Anthony J.a; Hesseling, Anneke C.a; Seddon, James A.a,b

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: June 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 211–219
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000062

Purpose of review Childhood multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis is an emerging disease with increasing numbers being recognized. This review presents recent developments in childhood MDR tuberculosis.

Recent findings New molecular-based diagnostic tests, although not optimal, have reduced the difficulty in confirming the diagnosis of MDR tuberculosis in children. However, the importance of making a diagnosis of probable MDR tuberculosis has been reaffirmed by contact tracing studies showing 80–90% of child contacts of MDR tuberculosis cases who develop disease have MDR tuberculosis themselves. Prevention of MDR tuberculosis in child contacts with appropriate preventive treatment regimens is supported by new observational data and deserves further study. When diagnosed and treated appropriately, outcomes for MDR tuberculosis and even extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis in children are good, despite limited pharmacokinetic data on second-line drugs. Novel anti-tuberculosis drugs and regimens are becoming available and should be studied in children for dose-finding and safety. Recording and reporting of MDR tuberculosis in children are frequently poor, leading to inaccurate estimates of disease burden and suboptimal resource planning.

Summary Rapid diagnosis and appropriate treatment results in good outcomes in the majority of children with MDR tuberculosis. Additional research on optimal diagnosis, prevention and treatment of MDR tuberculosis in children remains a high priority.

aDepartment of Paediatrics and Child Health, Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

bDepartment of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom

Correspondence to Prof H. Simon Schaaf, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa. Tel: +0027 21 9389112; fax: +0027 21 9389138; e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.