—To describe the factors underlying an increasing incidence of tuberculosis in children.
—Descriptive case review.
—Palm Beach County, Fla.
—Forty-four children with suspected and confirmed pediatric tuberculosis from 1985 through 1989.
—From 1988 through 1989, tuberculosis was confirmed in 15 children and suspected in another 16 compared with data from 1985 through 1987 in which the disease was confirmed in nine children and suspected in four. Pediatric tuberculosis occurred primarily in blacks younger than 5 years; the increase in the number of cases reported in 1988 and 1989 occurred only in blacks. One child in whom tuberculosis was confirmed during the recent period was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); however, among children with suspected tuberculosis, four of the nine children tested were seropositive for HIV. There was no evidence of increased transmission of tuberculosis to children by HIV-seropositive adults compared with transmission by HIV-seronegative adults with TB. New adult tuberculosis cases in the county increased annually, from 92 cases in 1986 to 169 in 1989, of whom at least 36% were infected with HIV.
—The largest effect of the HIV epidemic on tuberculosis in children appeared to be indirect, through an increase in the number of adults with active tuberculosis serving as potential sources of tuberculosis infection for children. A direct effect of HIV infection in the progression of tuberculous disease in children is likely, but was not detected in this investigation. Case-finding for tuberculosis among children will need to increase, particularly in areas heavily affected by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, but may be complicated by the difficulty of diagnosing tuberculosis in HIV-infected children.(AJDC. 1992;146:1166-1170)