BACKGROUND: Infants are a target population for new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. TB incidence estimates are needed to guide the design of trials. To determine the TB incidence and cohort retention among young children using comprehensive diagnostic methods in a high burden area.
METHODS: Infants 0-42 days were enrolled. Through 4 monthly follow-up and unscheduled (sick) visits up to the age of 2 years, infants with presumptive TB based on a history of contact, TB symptoms or pre-determined hospitalization criteria were admitted to a case verification ward. Two induced sputa and gastric aspirates were collected for culture and GeneXpert. Mantoux and HIV tests were done. Clinical management was based on the Keith Edwards score. Cases were classified into microbiologically confirmed or radiologic, diagnosed by blinded expert assessment. Cox regression was used to identify risk factors for incident TB and study retention.
RESULTS: Of 2900 infants enrolled, 927 (32%) developed presumptive TB, 737/927 (80%) were investigated. Sixty-nine TB cases were diagnosed (bacteriologic and radiologic). All TB incidence was 2/100 person-years of observation (pyo) (95% CI: 1.65-2.65). Nine were bacteriologic cases, incidence 0.3/100 pyo. The radiologic TB incidence was 1.82/100 pyo. Bacteriologic TB was associated with infant HIV infection, higher Keith Edwards scores. Completeness of 4-month vaccinations and HIV infection were positively associated with retention.
CONCLUSIONS: TB incidence was high. An all TB endpoint would require a sample size of a few thousand children, but tens of thousands, when limited to bacteriologic TB.