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BackgroundTrue burden of tuberculosis (TB) in children is unknown. Hospitalised children are low-hanging fruit for TB case detection as they are within the system. We aimed to explore the process of recognition and investigation for childhood TB using a guideline-linked cascade of care.MethodsThis was an observational study of 42,107 children admitted to 13 county hospitals in Kenya from 01Nov 15-31Oct 16, and 01Nov 17-31Oct 18. We estimated those that met each step of the cascade, those with an apparent (or "Working") TB diagnosis and modelled associations with TB tests amongst guideline-eligible children.Results23,741/42,107 (56.4%) met step 1 of the cascade (≥2 signs and symptoms suggestive of TB). Step 2(further screening of history of TB contact/full respiratory exam) was documented in 14,873/23,741 (62.6%) who met Step 1. Step 3(chest x-ray or Mantoux test) was requested in 2,451/14,873 (16.5%) who met Step 2. Step 4(≥1 bacteriological test) was requested in 392/2,451 (15.9%) who met Step 3. Step 5("Working TB" diagnosis) was documented in 175/392 (44.6%) who met Step 4. Factors associated with request of TB tests in patients who met Step 1 included: i) older children [AOR 1.19(CI 1.09-1.31)]; ii) co-morbidities of HIV, malnutrition or pneumonia [AOR 3.81(CI 3.05-4.75), 2.98(CI 2.69-3.31) and 2.98(CI 2.60-3.40) respectively]; iii) sicker children, readmitted/referred [AOR 1.24(CI 1.08-1.42) and 1.15(CI 1.04-1.28) respectively]. "Working TB" diagnosis was made in 2.9%(1,202/42,107) of all admissions and 0.2%(89/42,107) were bacteriologically-confirmed.ConclusionsMore than half of all paediatric admissions had symptoms associated with TB and nearly two-thirds had more specific history documented. Only a few amongst them got TB tests requested. TB was diagnosed in 2.9% of all admissions but most were inadequately investigated. Major challenges remain in identifying and investigating TB in children in hospitals with access to Xpert MTB/RIF and a review is needed of existing guidelines.

Original publication





PloS one

Publication Date





KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Health Services Research Group, Nairobi, Kenya.


Clinical Information Network, Humans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Tuberculosis, HIV Infections, Pneumonia, Malnutrition, Cost of Illness, Child, Preschool, Infant, Hospitals, Kenya