BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious co-morbidity among children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and TB diagnosis remains particularly challenging in the very young. We explored whether, in a low HIV-prevalence setting, the detection of mycobacterial lipoarabinomannan (LAM) antigen in urine may assist TB diagnosis in SAM children, a pediatric population currently not included in LAM-testing recommendations. To that end, we assessed LAM test-positivity among SAM children with and without signs or symptoms of TB.
METHODS: A cross-sectional assessment (February 2016-August 2017) included children
RESULTS: 102 (Group 1) and 100 children (Group 2) were included (median age 18 months, 59.4% male, 1.0% HIV-positive). In Group 1, 22 (21.6%) children were started on TB-treatment (probable TB) and none of the children in Group 2. LAM-positivity was 52.0% (53/102) and 37.0% (37/100) in Group 1 and 2, respectively. Low-intensity (Grade 1) LAM test-positivity was similarly high in both Groups (37.3% and 36.0%, respectively), while Grade 2 or 3-positives were mainly detected in Group 1 (Group 1: 14.7%, Group 2: 1.0%, p1 as positive, LAM-testing detected 22.7% (95%CI: 7.8, 45.4) among probable TB cases, while 99% (95%CI: 94.6, 99.9) of unlikely TB cases (Group 2) tested negative.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest the potential utility of LAM urine testing in HIV-negative children with SAM. Determine LAM-positivity with Grades >1 may identify HIV-negative SAM children that are eligible for rapid TB-treatment initiation, though low-intensity (Grade 1) LAM-positive results may not be helpful in this way. Further studies in this specific pediatric population are warranted, including evaluations of new generation LAM tests.