Setting: Limited data exist on adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment and chemoprophylaxis in children in high-burden settings.
Objective: To determine the adherence to anti-tuberculosis chemoprophylaxis and treatment in children evaluated as household contacts of adult pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) cases.
Methods: A retrospective study, conducted from January 1996 to September 2003, in suburban Cape Town, South Africa, with a high TB incidence. A folder search was done on all children <5 years of age identified as household contacts of adult PTB cases between 1996 and 2003. Data on screening for TB and adherence to prescribed therapy in child contacts were analysed.
Results: Three hundred and sixty-one contact episodes with 243 adult PTB cases were identified in 335 children. The median age was 25 months. Adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment was significantly better than adherence to chemoprophylaxis (82.6% vs. 44.2%; OR 6.83; 95%CI 3.6-12.96). Adherence to a 3-month chemoprophylaxis regimen of isoniazid and rifampicin (3HR) was significantly better than adherence to a 6-month chemoprophylaxis regimen of isoniazid only (69.6% vs. 27.6%; OR 4.97; 95%CI 2.40-10.36).
Conclusions: Although adherence to treatment was good, adherence to unsupervised chemoprophylaxis was poor. We recommend that shorter chemoprophylaxis regimens such as 3HR should be considered to improve adherence, but further studies are required.