Objectives: To determine risk factors for pediatric tuberculosis infection and active tuberculosis.
Study design: We examined medical records from multiple sources for all 282 children younger than 15 years in Alaska during the period 1987 to 1994 who were household contacts of an adult with culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis.
Results: Infection developed in 25% of the children and progressed to active disease in 9.6%. Risk factors for pediatric infection included exposure to a parent who had active tuberculosis and exposure to any adult with active tuberculosis who had a cough, smear positivity, or a left upper lobe (LUL) chest lesion (odds ratios, 2.1 to 2.8). Among the 71 children in whom infection developed, Alaska Natives and younger children were more likely to progress to active tuberculosis, as were children exposed to a parent who had active tuberculosis and children exposed to any adult who had a LUL chest lesion (odds ratios, 1.5 to 12).
Conclusions: Although all children with household exposure to adults with active tuberculosis have a high risk of contracting the infection and disease, specific risk factors can be identified and differ for infection and disease. Alaska Natives have an increased risk of progression to disease once infected.