Consensus statement on childhood tuberculosis

Indian Pediatr. 2010 Jan;47(1):41-55. doi: 10.1007/s13312-010-0008-3.


Justification: Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) has focused on adults with smear positivity a tool not so well used in children with tuberculosis. There is a need to redefine standardization of diagnosis and management protocols for childhood tuberculosis.

Process: Indian Academy of Pediatrics constituted a Working Group to develop consensus statement on childhood tuberculosis (TB). Members of the Group were given individual responsibilities to review the existing literature on different aspects of the childhood TB. The group deliberated and developed a consensus which was circulated to all the members for review. Efforts were made to ensure that the recommendations are standardized.

Objectives: To produce recommendations and standard protocols for reasonably accurate diagnosis and rational treatment of tuberculosis in children.

Recommendations: Fever and or cough > 2 weeks with loss of weight and recent contact with infectious case should arouse suspicion of TB. Chest Xray and trial with broad-spectrum antibiotic for 7-10 days is justified. In case of clinical and radiological non-response, Mantoux test and sputum or gastric aspirate for AFB is recommended. If AFB is positive, diagnosis is confirmed. If AFB is negative but chest Xray is suggestive and Mantoux test is positive, it is a probable case and if these tests are negative, alternate diagnosis must be sought and referral made to an expert. Ideally it is recommended to use 1TU of PPD for Mantoux test but 2 or 5 TU may be acceptable (but less preferred). Cut-off point of 10 mms for natural infection may be used for test done with 1, 2 or 5 TU. There is no linear relation of reaction to tuberculin strength and so no more than 5 TU should be used. BCG test is not recommended. Diagnosis must not be made without an attempt to look for AFB in gastric aspirate or sputum, as it is possible to get AFB even in primary complex. Elisa and PCR tests for TB are not recommended. There is no place for trial of anti tubercular therapy. Lymphnode enlargement > 2 cm with or without typical findings suggestive of TB and failure of antibiotic response demands FNAC for histopathology and bacteriology. Clinical suspicion of tubercular meningitis (TBM) should be confirmed by CSF examination and CT scan though none of these investigations are confirmatory and hence should not be considered in isolation. CSF tests for TB antibody and PCR are not recommended for routine use. Diagnosis of abdominal TB is made on circumstantial evidence and there are no standard guidelines. For treatment, disease is divided into three categories. The Category I and III are recommended for different types of new cases i.e. those who have received treatment for not more than 4 weeks. Category III includes primary pulmonary complex, one site peripheral lymphadenitis and pleural effusion, while all other forms of TB are included in Category I, that corresponds to smear positive TB in adults. This is because AFB is often found in many Category I disease in children. Category II includes defaulters, relapses and failure cases irrespective of the site of disease. Standard protocol is followed for each of these categories. Intermittent thrice weekly therapy with higher dose has been found to be equally effective as daily therapy and so is recommended in DOTS Direct Observed Therapy Short term. Compliance of treatment must be ensured. Repeat chest X-ray is ideal at the end of therapy. Liver function tests are not routinely recommended. Recommendations are also made for special situations such as MDRTB, TB and HIV and neonate born to mother suffering from TB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage
  • Chemoprevention / methods
  • Child
  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • India
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant


  • Antitubercular Agents