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Treatment of active
tuberculosis (TB) in children is usually different
from treatment of TB in adults. In children younger than 4 years, TB is more
likely to spread beyond the lungs (extrapulmonary TB). It is also harder to get from children a
sputum sample that grows TB bacteria.1 So the doctor may assume that a child is infected with the
same type of TB bacteria as the person who most likely infected him or
In general, TB treatment in children usually begins with 3 medicines
instead of 4 because:
Children with TB usually take isoniazid, rifampin, and pyrazinamide
for 2 months. Treatment then continues for at least 4 more months with
isoniazid and rifampin. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) also may be recommended during
TB treatment if the child is not eating a good diet or isn't getting enough
Directly observed therapy (DOT) is usually done to
make sure that the child takes all of the medicine.
Additional medicines taken for a longer time may be needed for
A child taking ethambutol to treat a TB infection should have his or
her vision checked every month.
American Thoracic Society, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, Infectious Diseases Society of America (2003). Treatment of
tuberculosis. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 167(4): 603–662.
April 15, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
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