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Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Sep 28;67(8):1256-1261. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy241.

Increase in Childhood Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infections After Bacille Calmette-Guérin Coverage Drop: A Nationwide, Population-Based Retrospective Study, Finland, 1995-2016.

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Doctoral Programme in Population Health, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Children's Hospital, Pediatric Research Center, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Finland.
Department of Health Security, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland.
Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Finland.



Epidemiological data on childhood nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) disease is scarce and the protective effect of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination remains debated. In 2006, the BCG policy in Finland changed from universal to selective. We aimed to study the effect of the BCG coverage decrease on the incidence of childhood NTM infections in Finland.


We conducted a nationwide, population-based, retrospective study of NTM notifications recorded to the National Infectious Diseases Register between 1995 and 2016 and identified native-born children aged 0-4 years infected with NTM. Poisson log-linear model was used to estimate the change in the incidence rate of cohorts born during universal or selective BCG policy between 1995 and 2015.


We identified 97 native-born children aged <5 years infected with NTM (median age, 27 months; female-to-male ratio, 2:1). The most common species was Mycobacterium avium (n = 69 [71%]). The estimated incidence rates of NTM in universal-BCG and selective-BCG cohorts were 0.2 and 3.9 per 100000 person-years, respectively. The incidence rate ratio of selective-BCG cohorts compared to universal-BCG cohorts was 19.03 (95% confidence interval, 8.82-41.07; P < .001).


After infant BCG coverage in Finland decreased, childhood NTM infections increased drastically. As there is no other apparent cause for the increase, this indicates that BCG offers protection against childhood NTM disease. This observation adds to the understanding of childhood NTM epidemiology and might explain why the disease is emerging in some countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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