TB Treatment for Children
Once infected with TB bacteria, children are more likely than adults to get sick with TB disease and to get sick more quickly than adults. In comparison to children, TB disease in adults is usually due to past TB infection that becomes active years later, when a person’s immune system becomes weak for some reason (e.g., HIV infection, diabetes).
A pediatric TB expert should be involved in the treatment of TB in children and in the management of infants, young children, and immunocompromised children who have been exposed to someone with infectious TB disease. It is very important that children or anyone being treated for latent TB infection or TB disease take the drugs exactly as instructed by the doctor and finish the medicine.
Latent TB Infection Treatment for Children
Treatment is recommended for children with latent TB infection to prevent them from developing TB disease. Infants, young children, and immunocompromised children with latent TB infection or children in close contact with someone with infectious TB disease, require special consideration because they are at increased risk for getting TB disease. Consultation with a pediatric TB expert is recommended before treatment begins.
Children over 2 years of age can be treated for latent TB infection with once-weekly isoniazid-rifapentine for 12 weeks. Alternative treatments for latent TB infection in children include 4 months of daily rifampin or 9 months of daily isoniazid. The regimens are equally acceptable; however, health care providers should prescribe the more convenient shorter regimens, when possible. Patients are more likely to complete shorter treatment regimens.
TB Disease Treatment for Children
TB disease is treated by taking several anti-TB medicines for 6 to 9 months. It is important to note that if a child stops taking the drugs before completion, the child can become sick again. If drugs are not taken correctly, the bacteria that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat, and treatment lasts much longer (up to 18 to 24 months).
For Patients and their Families
- Questions and Answers about TB (Booklet)
- 12-Dose Regimen for Latent TB Infection-Patient Education Brochure
- 12-Dose Regimen for Latent TB Infection-Medication Tracker and Symptom Checklist [PDF – 156 KB]
- What Parents Need to Know About Tuberculosis (TB) Infection in Children– New Jersey Medical School Global TB Institute
- Tuberculosis Screening for International Adoptees Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 12-Dose Regimen for Latent TB Infection
- The 12-Dose Regimen for Latent TB Infection Treatment: Fact Sheet for Clinicians [PDF – 134 KB]
- TB Guidelines: Treatment
- Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections Among HIV-Exposed and HIV-Infected Children
- Red Book Online – American Academy of Pediatrics
- Update on Recommendations for Use of Once-weekly Isoniazid-Rifapentine Regimen to Treat Latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection
- Latent TB Infection Online Resources
- Pediatric TB for the Private Provider CD (ordering information)– Southeastern National Tuberculosis Center
- Pediatric Tuberculosis: An Online Presentation– Francis J. Curry National Tuberculosis Center
- Cruz AT and Starke JR. Pediatric Tuberculosis Pediatrics in Review. 2010: 31 (1): 13
- Page last reviewed: April 5, 2016
- Page last updated: June 21, 2018
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