We evaluated the clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of Peruvian children presenting with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) to determine whether features predictive of confirmed PTB could be identified.

Study Design.

This was a cross-sectional study of 135 children (mean age: 6.8 years) presenting to the Hospital del Niño in Lima, Peru, with presumptive diagnosis of PTB. Clinical, epidemiologic, and laboratory findings were compared between 3 groups of pediatric patients with a presumptive diagnosis of PTB: those with positive Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) cultures, those likely to have PTB based on clinical criteria but with negative cultures, and those who did not meet clinical diagnostic criteria or have positive cultures.


A total of 50 (37%) patients were diagnosed with definitive PTB based on positive sputum culture. Another 55 (47%) patients were classified as having probable PTB based on meeting at least 2 of the following criteria: cough lasting for at least 2 weeks, typical chest radiograph changes, purified protein derivative (PPD) ≥10 mm, or history of tuberculosis family contact. Patients with definitive or probable PTB were significantly older than patients without clinical PTB, and those with symptomatic disease were significantly older than those with asymptomatic disease. Patients with PTB diagnosed by culture were significantly more likely than those diagnosed using clinical criteria to have cough lasting ≥2 weeks, fever, and a PPD ≥10 mm.


The typical presentation of PTB in Peruvian children includes symptoms of active pulmonary disease similar to those seen in adults. This presentation differs significantly from that reported in developed countries, where many children have minimal or no symptoms at the time of presentation. The diagnostic criteria for pediatric PTB must be modified in hyperendemic developing country environments where features may differ from those described in the United States. The triad of cough lasting ≥2 weeks, fever, and a PPD ≥10 mm was highly predictive for culture-positive PTB among children in this low-income Peruvian population.

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