TB in children is uncommon in Canada. The impact of undiagnosed or untreated TB in children is serious. Children are more likely than adults to develop TB disease soon after infection. Public Health will notify parents/guardians of children who have been exposed to infectious TB. Most TB in children is caused by exposure to adults with infectious TB. They are also more likely to develop severe forms of TB
Tuberculosis is caused by TB germs (bacteria) that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as lymph nodes, kidneys or the spine.The impact of undiagnosed or untreated TB in children is serious.
The impact of undiagnosed or untreated TB in children is serious. Children are more likely than adults to develop TB disease soon after infection. They are also more likely to develop severe forms of TB.
Public Health notifies people who may have been exposed to TB.
You must take your child to a doctor as soon as possible for TB testing. All children who have been exposed to infectious TB should get a TB skin test and a checkup for symptoms of TB. Any child with a positive TB skin test or symptoms of TB will need a chest x-ray.
A TB skin test will be done to see if there are TB germs in your child’s body.
A child with LTBI has sleeping (dormant) germs in the body and will have a positive skin test. The child cannot pass the germs to others but can become sick with TB disease if left untreated. Your child can continue to go to school and daycare and play with others. You should keep a record of your child’s TB skin test result.
A child with LTBI can develop TB disease soon after infection. Early treatment of TB infection reduces the chances of children becoming sick with TB disease.
TB disease in children can be very severe and may cause lifelong health problems, brain damage, even death. TB disease may interfere with a child’s
growth and development. Children with the disease are often away from school for long periods of time, interfering with their learning and social development.
Children with LTBI are treated with specific TB medication. All medication for TB is free through your local public health unit. The medication is available in liquid, pill or capsule form. More detailed information about treating LTBI in children is available on our TB Treatment page.
TB medications are considered very safe, but some medicines may have side effects.
STOP THE MEDICINE AND CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY if your child has any of these symptoms:
A child with TB disease has active germs in the body. The child is sick and may pass the germs to others.Children under five years of age often do not have TB signs and
Children under five years of age often do not have TB signs and symptoms and are usually not infectious. Older children and adolescents usually have symptoms, such as fever, cough, night sweats, weight loss, pain and/or swelling.
More detailed information about treating active TB in children is available on our TB Treatment page.
This information is also available in the following languages. To request a copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-338-7600 and ask for the TB program.