Children: TB’s Invisible Victims

With few child-friendly treatments, more than half a million children who get sick with TB each year face a greater risk of dying.

It’s also harder to detect TB in children, as TB’s telltale symptoms in adults—coughing, night sweats and blood in the phlegm or spit—are not always seen in children.

And since most efforts to fight the disease have focused on adults, children with TB are left invisible, said Mercedes Becerra, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "And even if they get treatment, we lack reliable diagnostic tools and child-friendly medicines, which hinders effective treatment and can even fuel drug resistance," she added.

TB kills at least 80,000 children each year, and as many as 32,000 children become sick with multi-drug resistant strain of TB (MDR-TB) each year, according to a study last year co-authored by Becerra.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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