Tuberculosis (TB) is a deadly disease that each of us may have heard about at least once in our lifetime. In relation with this a recent study published in the ‘Lancet’ a medical journal concluded that TB in children is increasingly prominent and is one of growing causes of infant mortality.
It states that, 2, 39,000 children younger than 15 years of age die from tuberculosis globally in 2015; 80 per cent of these deaths were in children younger than 5 years of age. More than 70 per cent of deaths occurred in the region of WHO Southeast Asia and Africa regions.
“TB is very common among children; however, other common causes of death among kids are pneumonia and diarrhoea. Having said that, it is very difficult to diagnose TB in children,” said Dr Tanu Singhal, Infectious Disease Expert at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Although younger children are vulnerable to severe forms of tuberculosis, no age-disaggregated estimates of paediatric tuberculosis mortality exist, and tuberculosis has never been included in official estimates of under-5 child mortality, said the report.
Diagnosing TB among children is a major hurdle. “It is indeed difficult to diagnose among children. This is mainly caused due to suppressed immunity among children. However, one important positive aspect of this is that paediatricians now do identify that there is some infection such as TB in children,” added Dr Singhal.
Om Shrivastav, Infectious Disease expert said, “TB doesn’t spare anybody. There is a bit of difficulty in its diagnosis among children.”
Tuberculosis is a disastrous disease which breeds in our society because of the favourable conditions for it in the country, “If you look closely, there are more TB deaths in our country than any other disease. This is so because we have favourable environmental and social conditions, for the disease to breed,” said Dr Amit Kumar Nohwar, cofounder of ‘Doctors for You’ (DFY), Mumbai Project.
He further explains that overcrowding, lack of exposure to sunlight, unawareness regarding cough etiquettes are contributing factors.
Furthermore, the reasons and causes for spread of TB is a known phenomenon, “Overcrowding or close contact is a reason behind the spread of TB. Having said that, the social conditions around children is quite important to understand,” said Dr Harshawardhan Bhamare, a practicing General Physician.