Neonatal, atopic and infectious disease outcomes among children born to mothers with latent tuberculosis infection.
Exposure to microbes may result in maternal immune responses that can affect fetal immune development.
Several lines of evidence have shown that mycobacterial antigens can change the onset of atopic disease.
We hypothesized that infants born to mothers with a positive tuberculosis (TB) test and a negative chest radiograph, may exhibit differential development of atopic disease during early childhood.
The study was designed as a case control study. Birth records for infants born to untreated mothers with a positive TB skin test (TST), as defined by ≥10 mm induration were reviewed (n = 145 cases) and compared to a randomly selected unmatched control cohort of 46 women with a negative TST who delivered during the same time period at Scripps Hospital in San Diego, CA, USA.
Childhood outcome parameters reviewed were:
(1) the onset of physician diagnosed asthma;
(2) lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) with wheezing, latent tuberculosis infection/wheezing diagnosed on physical examination;
(3) nonsurgical hospitalization;
(4) atopic disease (eye/skin/nasal-sinus disease);
(5) infections: ear, LRTI, sinus. LRTI was defined as an infection of the lower airways, eg, pneumonia.
Outcomes at the end of years 1, 2, and 3-5 years combined were analyzed. Fisher exact test, Chi-square analysis or Poisson regression analysis were used as appropriate and a P-value of <0.05 was defined as significant.
The cases and controls had similar birth weights, gestational ages, maternal ages: 3.34 versus 3.35 kg; 38.3 versus 39.2 weeks, 27.4 versus 26 years (P = non-significant).
The childhood outcome parameters of the new onset of asthma was significantly higher than controls by age 2 years, but not at other ages studied, based on available clinic follow up data (P = 0.02).
There was a difference in the risk for lung infection at age 2 and 3-5 years (P < 0.0001).
There were no differences in the other outcome parameters studied (P = ns).
There were no cases of infants with a positive TST, maternal Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccination or active maternal TB, based on our study findings.
There was a higher occurrence of asthma and lung infections at age 2 years among controls (P = 0.02).
Our study defines for the first time a possible influence of maternal latent TB infection on fetal and childhood illness