Tuberculosis Infection in Children and Adolescents: Testing and Treatment

Dawn Nolt, Jeffrey R. Starke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Tuberculosis (TB) remains an important problem among children in the United States and throughout the world. There is no diagnostic reference standard for latent tuberculosis infection (also referred to as tuberculosis infection [TBI]). The tuberculin skin test (TST) has many limitations, including difficulty in administration and interpretation, the need for a return visit by the patient, and falsepositive results caused by cross-reaction with Mycobacterium bovis-bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccines and many nontuberculous mycobacteria. Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are blood tests that use antigens specific for M tuberculosis; as a result, IGRAs yield fewer false-positive results than the TST. Both IGRAs and the TST have reduced sensitivity in immunocompromised children, including children with severe TB disease. Both methods have high positive predictive value when applied to children with risk factors for TBI, especially recent contact with a person who has TB disease. The advantages of using IGRAs and diminished experience with the placement and interpretation of the TST favor expanded use of IGRAs in children in the United States. There are now several effective and safe regimens for the treatment of TBI in children. For improved adherence to therapy, the 3 rifamycin-based regimens are preferred because of their short duration. Daily isoniazid can be used if there is intolerance or drug interactions with rifamycins. A TB specialist should be involved when there are questions regarding testing interpretation, selection of an appropriate treatment regimen, or management of adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021054663
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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