Study: Tuberculosis Affects About 1M Kids Every Year

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Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published startling results in the Lancet journal Sunday evening when they found that about 1 million children under the age of 15 contract tuberculosis around the world every year. That’s twice as many as health experts originally thought. The Wall Street Journal reported on the study Sunday night and said that about 32,000 of those affected have drug-resistant strains of the airborne disease.

According to the Journal, doctors and public health officials have long centered their attention on TB in the way it affects adults because those patients are known to be infectious. However, the researchers’ latest findings unveiled evidence that children, too, might be capable of spreading the disease. Mercedes Becerra, associate professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-senior author of the story, explained to the publication that the children’s TB is a sign of infection or disease in adult family members and others around them.

The Wall Street Journal said that the authors based their estimates on data derived from several sources of data and made an estimate on the number of children whose TB is believed to be missed with a test using a patient’s sputum. However, their most recent numbers don’t match up with those from a number of different research agencies — that’s because the methodology for determining how many children are affected by TB is still evolving.

The first pediatric TB estimates only started becoming available about three years ago, which explains how the researchers can put their number of children affected at 1 million while the World Health Organization still estimates that about 530,000 children develop TB every year.

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