HEDS is part of the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield. We undertake research, teaching, training and consultancy on all aspects of health related decision science, with a particular emphasis on health economics, HTA and evidence synthesis.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Project update: Estimates of TB burden in children revisited

New estimates of tuberculosis (TB) in children published today in the Lancet Global Health suggest that around 650,000 children developed the disease in the 22 highest burden countries in 2010. In the region of 15 million children are estimated to share a household with a TB case, representing a large,
potentially identifiable pool of kids for whom preventive therapy could reduce their chances of developing disease.

Image by NIAID via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Children are particularly vulnerable to developing disease following infection, but their TB is often difficult to diagnose. Disease can take many forms that are easily confused with other things, and obtaining specimens for lab testing is often problematic. Even if correctly diagnosed, TB cases in children may not be reported due to perceptions that children’s lower infectiousness means paediatric TB is not a public health priority.

The unknown gap between the reported number of cases and the true presents a problem for notification-based estimates. The new estimates get around this problem by using a mathematical model developed by ScHARR’s Peter Dodd to indirectly infer the TB incidence in children, starting from estimates of the prevalence of infectious adults in the community.

For other views on the story, several media outlets have picked it up including the BBC.