Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...


Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...


Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...


The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52


Tuberculosis, more commonly referred to as TB, is a disease caused by a bacterial organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs, although it may affect other organs of the body. Tuberculosis is transmitted when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, their sputum droplets fill the air and are inhaled by another individual who may then contract the disease. Tuberculosis is more likely to occur in overcrowded living conditions, amongst the poor, homeless and underprivileged, and those who are rendered more susceptible because there is an adult with TB in the household or they are infected with HIV. In South Africa, TB is a major cause of illness and mortality in children. The younger the child, the more serious the disease (IPS, 2010; Leary, 1990; The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2010).



·                In infants and children, the first infection with TB bacteria, known as primary pulmonary tuberculosis, usually produces no symptoms, and chest X-rays indicate no sign of infection. Very occasionally, a child may present with swollen lymph nodes and some coughing.

·                In most cases, a tuberculin skin test needs to be performed in order to establish whether a child has been infected with TB bacteria. Even in the absence of disease symptoms, medication is usually required.

·                The primary infection usually resolves within 6-10 weeks.

·                In some cases, the disease progresses, spreads all over the lungs, and may affect other organs. This is called progressive tuberculosis and produces symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite and cough.

·                Another type of infection, known as reactivation tuberculosis, occurs when the primary infection has resolved, but the bacteria remain dormant until there are more favourable conditions (e.g. lowered immunity) for reactivation. This type of TB occurs more commonly in older children and adults. The most prominent symptom is fever accompanied by night sweats. Weight loss and fatigue may follow. The progression of the disease is evident in the formation of cavities in the lungs, and the person may experience coughing and the production of saliva or mucus that may contain blood (The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2010).



It is often difficult to diagnose TB in children under the age of 10 because they are usually unable to cough up enough sputum for the laboratory test that is able to confirm the presence of a TB infection. Doctors therefore largely rely on the clinical features of the illness, such as cough, weight loss, and a history of close contact with an adult infected with TB, in order to make a diagnosis. Due to the increasing coverage of the TB vaccination, the tuberculin skin test cannot necessarily be used as a confirmatory test. Also, chest X-rays in children seldom produce the typical shadow indicative of TB (World Health Organization, 2010).


The WHO provides the following guidelines to assist in identifying and diagnosing TB in children:

·                Children who are ill and have a history of close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of pulmonary TB.

·                Children who do not fully recover after mumps or whooping cough.

·                Children who do not respond to antibiotic treatment for acute respiratory disease, and also display signs of coughing, fever and weight loss.

·                Visible abdominal swelling.

·                A painless swelling of the superficial lymph nodes.

·                Signs of meningitis or any other CNS disease (World Health Organization, 2010).



Children may require hospitalisation for the initial evaluation and treatment of TB, particularly if they are young infants, there are severe drug interactions, or if TB is accompanied by other diseases. However, in most cases children may be treated at home, with the prescribed medications. This may involve the use of 3-4 different drugs. Although treatment may take months to complete, it is essential that the full course is completed in order to cure TB. If left untreated, TB is a chronic disease that can persist for years (The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2010).



·                The prevention of TB involves avoiding contact with infected persons, using medication as a preventative measure in high-risk cases, and maintaining good living standards.

·                Child minders and domestic workers should have regular screening for TB.

·                The early identification and successful treatment of infectious adult patients is one of the ways of preventing the transmission of TB to children.

·                The BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) immunisation of babies soon after birth up until the age of 2 will give them a certain measure of protection against the development of TB meningitis and against chance infection due to casual contact with a TB sufferer in the community (Leary, 1990, The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2010; WHO, 2010).