Background: Childhood tuberculosis causes significant morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia, yet little is known about the epidemiology and clinical characteristics of this disease in Viet Nam. Objectives: To determine the demographics, clinical presentations, radiographic and microbiologic findings, treatment regimens, and outcomes of children admitted with tuberculosis (TB) to a national referral hospital in Viet Nam. Methods: We conducted a retrospective case series study of children ≤ 15 years old with bacteriologically confirmed or clinically diagnosed TB admitted to a national referral hospital in Ha Noi, Viet Nam from January through December 2007. Results: One hundred three children were identified: median age 5 years (IQR 2-10), 44% female, 99% Kinh ethnicity, 27% residing in Ha Noi, 88% with BCG vaccination, 27% with known TB contact, and 38% malnourished. Intrathoracic TB was present in 62%, extrathoracic in 52%, both intra and extrathoracic in 19%, and undetermined site in 5%. The most common extrathoracic manifestation was peripheral lymphadenitis, and children under 5 were more likely to have miliary TB or both intra and extrathoracic TB. Fever and failure to thrive were common presenting symptoms among all participants (65% and 56%, respectively), 66% of those with intrathoracic TB presented with cough, and 92% of those with TB meningitis presented with severe neurologic impairment. Acid-fast bacilli smears and mycobacterial cultures were positive in 18% and 21% of children tested, and histopathology was positive in 88% of those biopsied. There were no adverse drug reactions necessitating change in therapy, and no inpatient mortality. Conclusions: Extrathoracic TB was common, treatment well tolerated and clinical outcomes excellent. Culture confirmation rates were low and emphasize the need for improved diagnostics.
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