Rapid Decrease in Tuberculin Skin Test Reactivity at Preschool Age After Newborn Vaccination

Acta Paediatr. 1992 Sep;81(9):678-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1992.tb12332.x.


A study of tuberculin sensitivity was performed in 353 children aged 4-6 years, all vaccinated at birth with British BCG vaccine. Significant waning of tuberculin reactions with increasing age was found (p < 0.05). In the age group < 4.5 years, the mean tuberculin reaction was 6.6 mm, in the age group 4.5-5.5 years 5.2 mm and in the age group of > 5.5 years 3.5 mm. The number of children with positive reactions (> or = 5 mm) was 165 (40%) and those with strong reactions (> or = 10 mm) 49 (14%). None of the latter children had active tuberculosis during a follow-up period of 12 months. Eighty-three (24%) of the children had no reaction. The children who had been revaccinated with the MPR vaccine against measles, rubella and parotitis (n = 31) had significantly larger tuberculin reactions than the non-revaccinated children. Atopic dermatitis or infections during the preceding six months did not have any significant influence on reaction sizes. Our results demonstrate that the variation in size of tuberculin reactions after BCG vaccination at birth is large. We conclude that tuberculin sensitivity wanes rapidly by the age of 4.0-6.3 years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • BCG Vaccine*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Male
  • Tuberculin Test*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control*


  • BCG Vaccine