OBJECTIVE:

Our aim was to describe the patient characteristics, clinical–epidemiological profile, and treatment outcome of childhood tuberculosis (TB).

METHODS:

A retrospective, descriptive study was undertaken of 1212 children aged 0 to 18 years admitted to Beijing Children’s Hospital for the treatment of TB from January 2002 to December 2010. Statistical significance of category variables was evaluated by using Fisher’s exact test.

RESULTS:

Fifty-four percent of patients had extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB), 38.8% had tuberculous meningitis, and 31.3% had disseminated TB. The last 2 types were defined as severe TB. Most patients with TB (81.6%) were cured or completed treatment. There were more patients aged <5 years and from rural areas with EPTB than with pulmonary tuberculosis. More severe cases of TB were found in patients aged <1 year than other less severe types of TB. Patients with no bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccination and a contact history at home had a significantly risk of contracting severe TB. Children aged <1 year and those with severe TB were more likely to have poor treatment outcomes (failed to improve or died). Among those with EPTB, only 61.3% and 61.1% had positive results on the purified protein derivative tuberculin skin test and chest radiograph, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this referral hospital setting, more pediatric EPTB and severe TB patients were found among children aged <1 year. Age <1 year and having severe TB were risk factors for treatment failure. Thus, prevention and health care in pediatric TB should focus on both EPTB and severe TB.

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