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Tuberculosis in children: a national survey of notifications in England and Wales in 1983. Medical Research Council Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Unit.


A survey of all notifications of tuberculosis in children (aged less than 15 years) in England and Wales in 1983 showed a decline of 35% in the estimated annual number of previously untreated children notified since the previous survey in 1978-9. Of the 452 children in the 1983 survey, 217 (48%) were of white, 79 (17%) of Indian, and 104 (23%) of Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnic origin. The decline in the number of Indian children notified (46%) was much greater than that for Pakistani and Bangladeshi children (16%). In both surveys the estimated annual notification rate was much higher for the Indian and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups (32 and 52/100,000, respectively in 1983) than for the white group (2.4/100,000 in 1983). The mean annual decline in rate between the two surveys was 14% for the Indian, 10% for the Pakistani and Bangladeshi, and 7% for the white children. In both surveys the rates for the children of Indian subcontinent (Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi) ethnic origin born in the United Kingdom were considerably lower than for those born abroad. Of the 452 children in the 1983 survey, 342 (76%) had respiratory disease (including 26 (6%) with a non-respiratory lesion as well). Less than half (134, 45%) had a pulmonary lesion at independent assessment of chest radiographs, a further 115 (38%) had only enlarged intrathoracic nodes. Only 60 (19%) of the children with respiratory disease only had a positive culture from a respiratory specimen, but the culture positivity rate in those tested was 45%. Almost two thirds of the children with non-respiratory disease had lesions of the extrathoracic nodes, nearly all cervical. There were 20 children with tuberculosis meningitis in the 12 months, including 12 (6%) of the 217 white and six (3%) of the 183 children of Indian subcontinent ethnic origin.

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