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BMC Infect Dis. 2014;14 Suppl 1:S3. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-14-S1-S3. Epub 2014 Jan 8.

Tuberculosis in childhood: a systematic review of national and international guidelines.



Paediatric tuberculosis (TB) represents a major public health concern worldwide. About 1 million children aged less than 15 years develop TB each year, contributing to 3-25% of the total TB caseload. The aim of this review is to evaluate national and international guidelines concerning tuberculosis in childhood and compare them in terms of diagnosis and treatment strategies.


A literature search of the Pubmed database was performed from January 2000 to August 2013, using the terms "tuberculosis" and "children". The search was limited to guidelines and consensus conferences, human species and full text availability, with no language restrictions.


Twenty-seven national and international guidelines are identified. Several discrepancies on the diagnosis workup of TB are underlined. The main points of disagreement are represented by the interpretation of tuberculin skin test (TST) result and the recommendations on the use of TST and/or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) for the diagnosis of TB infection. Otherwise, all guidelines are in agreement that a microbiological confirmation should always be sought. Similarly, susceptibility drug testing and genotyping should be performed whenever it is possible on the basis of resources availability. On the contrary, the use of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for the M. tuberculosis detection is still controversial. A general consensus exists, otherwise, on TB treatment and only minor discrepancies are evidenced, such as the recommendations on daily or intermittent treatment regimens.


Despite advances in TB diagnostic tools have been reached during the last decade, a lack of uniformity in their availability, indication and interpretation has relevant consequences for clinical practice. Further studies need to be performed to clarify this issue and identify a reliable and reproducible diagnostic workup. Moreover, future studies should analyze the drug metabolism and the efficacy of intermittent dosing regimes in childhood, as well as new treatment regimens in order to improve the therapy compliance.

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