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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2006 Dec;10(12):1318-30.

Ethambutol dosage for the treatment of children: literature review and recommendations.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa.


The currently recommended daily dose of ethambutol (EMB) for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in children varies from a maximum daily dose of 15 mg/kg body weight daily (without a range) to 15-20 mg/kg and 20 mg/ kg (range 15-25 mg/kg). Published evidence relating to the dosage, toxicity and pharmacokinetics of EMB in children and adults is reviewed and a dose of EMB for use in childhood is recommended. Using key words 'ethambutol', 'childhood', 'TB', 'pharmacokinetics', 'bioavailability' and 'toxicity', Medline searches were conducted; cross-references were sought from original papers, books and conference proceedings dating from 1961. When English summaries were available, data were extracted from papers in languages other than English. EMB has a dose-related efficacy best seen when given to adults alone or with a single other drug. Together with isoniazid (INH), a dose of 15 mg/kg EMB gave better results than 6 mg/kg, and 25 mg/kg better than 15 mg/kg. The occurrence of ocular toxicity was also dose-related; >40% of adults developed toxicity at doses of >50 mg/ kg, and 0-3% at a dose of 15 mg/kg/daily. Peak serum EMB concentrations increase in relation to dose, but are significantly lower in children receiving the same dosage. In only 2 of 3811 children (0.05%) receiving EMB doses of 15-30 mg/kg was EMB stopped due to possible ocular toxicity; children of all ages can be given EMB in daily doses of 20 mg/kg (range 15-25 mg/kg) and three times weekly intermittent doses of 30 mg/kg body weight without undue concern.

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