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What are the options for treating latent TB infection in children?
  1. Amanda Gwee1,
  2. Benjamin Coghlan2,3,
  3. Nigel Curtis1,4,5
  1. 1Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of General Medicine, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Centre for International Health, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Group, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Nigel Curtis, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, 50 Flemington Rd, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia; nigel.curtis{at}

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You are looking after a previously well, HIV-negative 4-year-old boy who has recently migrated to Australia from Sudan. He is BCG-immunised and reports no history of TB contact. His tuberculin skin test (TST) is positive (16 mm induration) and his chest x-ray (CXR) is normal. You diagnose latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and wonder what would be the best treatment regimen.

Structured clinical question

In a child with LTBI [patient], what is the best treatment regimen [intervention] taking into account four criteria: treatment compliance, drug adverse effects, treatment efficacy and cost [outcomes]?

Search strategy and outcome

Medline and EMBASE were searched using the Ovid interface (1974 to current date) in December 2012. The following keywords were used: (latent tuberculosis/[drug therapy, therapy]) OR (latent AND *tuberculosis/[diet therapy, drug therapy, surgery, therapy]). Limit set: English-language. Studies of LTBI treatment that included children aged less than 15 years were selected. Case reports, brief reports, studies of LTBI treatment for drug-resistant TB, studies including less than five children and studies of HIV-infected children were excluded. Of the 78 articles identified by the original search, 10 were relevant. The references of these publications were then reviewed and two additional articles were identified giving a total of 12 relevant studies (table 1). We contacted the corresponding authors of 10 of the articles and obtained further paediatric data from two (Li and Cook).

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Table 1

What are the options for treating latent TB infection in children?



Children with LTBI have a significant risk of developing active TB without treatment, including those that have been BCG-immunised.1 Progression to active TB has been reported in up to 40% of infected infants.2

Recommendations for the treatment of LTBI in children vary: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 9 months of isoniazid monotherapy3; the UK NICE …

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  • Contributors AG, BC and NC: analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of the manuscript and critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content; NC: study supervision.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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