Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Among Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Front Public Health. 2021 Aug 18:9:721817. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.721817. eCollection 2021.


Background: Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), especially multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a public health threat. Little is known about estimates of different profiles and rates of DR-TB among children globally. Methods: We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies reporting DR-TB among children by searching Embase, PubMed, and Scopus databases from January 1, 2000 to October 1, 2020. Publications reporting more than 60 children with bacteriological confirmed tuberculosis and phenotypical drug susceptibility testing (DST) results were included. Pooled proportions of MDR-TB and sub-analysis by age subgroups, regions, economical levels were performed. Results: We identified 4,063 studies, of which 37 were included. Of 23,652 pediatric TB patients, the proportions of DR-TB, MDR-TB, mono-resistant TB, polydrug resistant TB, extensively drug-resistant TB were 13.59% (1,964/14,453), 3.72% (881/23,652), 6.07% (529/8,719), 1.61% (119/7,361), 0.44% (30/6,763), respectively. The pooled proportion of MDR-TB among 23,652 children of 37 studies was 3.7% (95% CI, 3.5-4.0%). Rate of MDR-TB was much lower in high-income countries (1.8%) than that in lower-middle-income countries (6.3%) and upper-middle-income countries (7.3%). More specifically, the rates of MDR-TB were 1.7% in USA, 1.7% in UK, 2.9% in India, 6.0% in South Africa, 9.8% in China, respectively. Conclusions: The burden of DR-TB remains high in children, and there are potential associations between rates of pediatric MDR-TB and national economical levels. More interventions on child TB cases in low-income countries may be urgently needed in future.

Keywords: children; drug resistance; meta-analysis; national economic levels; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant* / drug therapy


  • Antitubercular Agents