Children under the age of five who are diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis have a greater chance of developing wheezing and impaired lung function later in life, according to a new study.
Children younger than 5 years old who are diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) have a greater risk of developing wheezing, poor lung function, and shorter stature and lower body mass index later in childhood, according to a recent study.
While there are treatments available for children with PTB, the researchers from Boston University School of Public Health, US, say that no studies have looked at the long-term effects of this disease on children’s health after they have recovered.
The results of their research have been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The research team
The research team, led by Leonardo Martinez and including researchers from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, the University of Cape Town, and the University of Western Australia, tracked a group of 1,068 children from their births through their ninth years in two communities outside of Cape Town between March 2012 and March 2015.
Children who were diagnosed with TB before their first birthday tended to be shorter and lighter as adults, while those who were diagnosed with PTB between the ages of one and four were shorter and had a lower body mass index.
the researchers also discovered that PTB youngsters had a higher risk of post-TB wheeze
Regardless of when they contracted TB, the researchers also discovered that PTB youngsters had a higher risk of post-TB wheezing. The risk of wheezing in children who developed PTB before the age of six months was found to be greater than double that in children who did not develop PTB.
Children who had PTB before the ages of 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months were also at a higher risk of developing wheezing later on.
In addition to the acute infection and illness, the team discovered that PTB was linked to long-term impairments in lung function.
As an assistant professor of epidemiology, Martinez noted, “While there is a good therapy for tuberculosis in children, there is concern that the effects of tuberculosis may be long-lasting, and there may be long-term morbidity even after treatment and recovery.”
According to Martinez, “these data show that prevention of tuberculosis disease in the first few years of life may have major long-term health benefits, in particular to lung health during childhood.”
According to Heather Zar, the study’s senior author and chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town, the research took advantage of a rare chance to follow up on children who had participated in the South African Drakenstein Child Health Study, a birth cohort study.
These findings are “crucial in delineating the burden and morbidity associated with TB illness, and in enhancing preventative measures,” according to Zar, who notes that “given the huge prevalence of childhood TB in low and middle-income countries.”
More than a million children have tuberculosis every year, and it continues to be one of the top 10 causes of death in children worldwide.