Pakistan has a high pediatric burden of tuberculosis, but few studies describe the treatment experience of children with tuberculosis in Pakistan. We sought to identify risk factors for unsuccessful treatment outcomes in children with drug-susceptible tuberculosis identified in eight hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study among children (<15 years old) treated with first-line anti-tuberculosis drugs for presumed or confirmed drug-susceptible tuberculosis between 2016 and 2017. We assessed risk factors for experiencing an unsuccessful treatment outcome through multivariable logistic regression analysis.


In total, 1,665 children initiated tuberculosis treatment, including 916 (55.0%) identified through intensified case finding. Unsuccessful treatment outcomes were experienced by 197 (11.8%) children, comprising 27 (1.6%) deaths, 16 (1.0%) treatment failures, and 154 (9.3%) lost to follow-up. An additional 47 (2.8%) children had outcomes not evaluable. In multivariable analysis, children 0–4 years old (OR: 1.80, 95% CI: 1.07–3.04), males (OR: 1.48, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.11), and those with bacteriologic confirmation of disease (OR: 3.39, 95% CI: 1.98, 5.80) had increased odds of experiencing an unsuccessful treatment outcome.


Our findings suggest a need to deploy strategies to identify children earlier in the disease process and point to the need for interventions tailored for young children once treatment is initiated.

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Citation: Hamid M, Brooks MB, Madhani F, Ali H, Naseer MJ, The Childhood Tuberculosis Karachi Group, et al. (2019) Risk factors for unsuccessful tuberculosis treatment outcomes in children. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222776. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222776