Congenital tuberculosis: Critical reappraisal of clinical findings and diagnostic procedures

J. Hageman, S. Shulman, M. Schreiber, S. Luck, R. Yogev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


The recent pattern of immigration from Indochina and Latin America to the United States suggests that tuberculosis will remain a significant public health problem. Two infants recently seen with probable congenital tuberculosis prompted critical evaluation of the 24 cases of congenital tuberculosis reported in the English literature since the introduction of isoniazid in 1952. Failure to thrive, jaundice, and central nervous system involvement, all reported in previous reviews and textbooks to be very common, were unusual presenting manifestations. In contrast, hepatomegaly, a finding not mentioned in the recent literature, was common. Diagnostic procedures previously underutilized but found in this review to be useful included liver biopsy, biopsy of skin lesions when present, and cultures of gastric aspirates. Factors which enable differentiation of congenital from early postnatally acquired tuberculosis include (1) the presence of known maternal tuberculosis at delivery, (2) whether infant and mother were separated from birth until the onset of illness, and (3) whether other tuberculous exposure of the infant can be determined. Insufficient data prevent recommendation of a preferred regimen of drugs in addition to isoniazid for the treatment of congenital tuberculosis. However, the responses of our patients suggest that streptomycin can be omitted without hazard. Information regarding the long-term prognosis of survivors is lacking, but early diagnosis and institution of appropriate therapy has markedly decreased the mortality of this previously fatal disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)980-984
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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