Severe undernutrition in children affects tuberculin skin test performance in Southern India

Divya Reddy, Yicheng Ma, Subitha Lakshminarayanan, Swaroop Sahu, Laura F. White, Ayiraveetil Reshma, Gautam Roy, Padmini Salgame, Selby Knudsen, Chelsie Cintron, Jerrold J. Ellner, C. Robert Horsburgh, Sonali Sarkar, Natasha S. Hochberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Undernutrition impairs immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is a risk factor for tuberculosis disease (TB). We aim to investigate if severe undernutrition affects the tuberculin skin test (TST) response among household contacts (HHCs) of pulmonary TB cases. Methods We analyzed data from HHCs (> five years) of pulmonary TB cases in Southern India. Undernutrition was defined as per World Health Organization based on body mass index (BMI) for adults (undernutrition 16–18.4 and severe undernutrition <16 kg/m2) and BMI relative to the mean for children (undernutrition 2SD-3SD and severe undernutrition < 3SDs below mean). Univariate and multivariate models of TST positivity (> five mm) were calculated using logistic regression with generalized estimating equations. Results Among 1189 HHCs, 342 were children (age 5–17 years) and 847 were adults. Prevalence of TST positivity in well-nourished, undernourished and severely undernourished children was 135/251 (53.8%), 32/68 (47.1%), and 7/23 (30.4%) respectively; among adults, prevalence of TST positivity was 304/708 (42.9%), 43/112 (38.4%) and 12/26 (46.2%), respectively. Severe undernutrition in children was associated with decreased odds of TST positivity (adjusted odds ratio 0.3; 95%CI 0.1–0.9). Conclusion Severe undernutrition in children was associated with decreased odds of TST positivity. False-negative TSTs may result from undernutrition; caution is warranted when interpreting negative results in undernourished populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0250304
JournalPloS one
Volume16
Issue number7 July
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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