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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1998 Oct;59(4):530-4.

Early electrocardiographic abnormalities in Trypanosoma cruzi-seropositive children.

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Communicable Diseases Program, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, District of Columbia 20037, USA.


As part of a major epidemiologic study on Chagas' disease, we compared the prevalence of electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities among 141 school children 7-12 years of age and seropositive for Trypanosoma cruzi, and 282 age-, sex-, and school-matched seronegative children in an endemic area in Brazil. The prevalence of ECG abnormalities was 11.3% among seropositive children and 3.5% among seronegative children (odds ratio = 3.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5-8.4). The prevalence rate of ECG alterations was 10.7% for seropositive males versus 8.9% for seropositive females. Complete right bundle branch block (CRBBB), which is highly suggestive of Chagas' disease cardiopathy, was diagnosed in nine (6.4%) seropositive children and in only one (0.3%) seronegative child (odds ratio = 18.5, 95% CI = 2.3-146.5, attributable fraction = 58.3%). Five incident new cases of CRBBB were diagnosed after a 36-month follow-up of seropositive children who were enrolled in an independent clinical field trial. No case of frequent and/or multifocal ventricular premature beats was found in the cohort of children. The surprisingly high frequency of early ECG abnormalities, which indicates a rapid evolution from infection to disease, suggests the existence of endemic areas with a particular accelerated disease progression that was not described before. Under such conditions, a public health chemotherapy program focusing on the treatment of young seropositive children would be recommended.

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