BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) in children and adolescents is a sentinel event for ongoing transmission. In the Netherlands, epidemiological characteristics of childhood and adolescent TB have not been fully evaluated. Therefore, we aimed to assess TB epidemiology within this population to provide guidance for TB elimination.
METHODS: A retrospective time-series analysis using national surveillance data from 1993-2018 was performed in children (aged <15 years) and adolescents (aged 15-19 years) with TB. Poisson regression models offset with log-population size were used to estimate notification rates and rate ratios. Trends in notification rates were estimated using average annual percent changes (AAPC) based on the segmented linear regression analysis.
RESULTS: Among 3899 children and adolescents with TB notified during 1993-2018, 2418 (62%) were foreign-born (725 [41.3%] of 1755 children and 1693 [78.9%] of 2144 adolescents). Overall notification rate in children was 2.3/100 000 person-years, declining steadily during the study period (AAPC: -10.9%; 95% CI: -12.6 to -9.1). In adolescents, overall notification rate was 8.4/100 000 person-years, strongly increasing during 1993-2001 and 2012-2018. Compared to Dutch-born, substantially higher notification rates were observed among African-born children and adolescents (116.8/100 000 and 316.6/100 000 person-years, respectively). Additionally, an increasing trend was observed in African-born adolescents (AAPC: 18.5%; 95% CI: 11.9-25.5). Among the foreign-born population, those from countries in the horn of Africa contributed most to the TB caseload.
CONCLUSION: TB notification rate among children was low and constantly declining across different demographic groups. However, heterogeneities were shown in adolescents, with an increasing trend in the foreign-born, particularly those from Africa.