BACKGROUND: Two thirds of children with tuberculosis have nonsevere disease, which may be treatable with a shorter regimen than the current 6-month regimen.
METHODS: We conducted an open-label, treatment-shortening, noninferiority trial involving children with nonsevere, symptomatic, presumably drug-susceptible, smear-negative tuberculosis in Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, and India. Children younger than 16 years of age were randomly assigned to 4 months (16 weeks) or 6 months (24 weeks) of standard first-line antituberculosis treatment with pediatric fixed-dose combinations as recommended by the World Health Organization. The primary efficacy outcome was unfavorable status (composite of treatment failure [extension, change, or restart of treatment or tuberculosis recurrence], loss to follow-up during treatment, or death) by 72 weeks, with the exclusion of participants who did not complete 4 months of treatment (modified intention-to-treat population). A noninferiority margin of 6 percentage points was used. The primary safety outcome was an adverse event of grade 3 or higher during treatment and up to 30 days after treatment.
RESULTS: From July 2016 through July 2018, a total of 1204 children underwent randomization (602 in each group). The median age of the participants was 3.5 years (range, 2 months to 15 years), 52% were male, 11% had human immunodeficiency virus infection, and 14% had bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis. Retention by 72 weeks was 95%, and adherence to the assigned treatment was 94%. A total of 16 participants (3%) in the 4-month group had a primary-outcome event, as compared with 18 (3%) in the 6-month group (adjusted difference, -0.4 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -2.2 to 1.5). The noninferiority of 4 months of treatment was consistent across the intention-to-treat, per-protocol, and key secondary analyses, including when the analysis was restricted to the 958 participants (80%) independently adjudicated to have tuberculosis at baseline. A total of 95 participants (8%) had an adverse event of grade 3 or higher, including 15 adverse drug reactions (11 hepatic events, all but 2 of which occurred within the first 8 weeks, when the treatments were the same in the two groups).
CONCLUSIONS: Four months of antituberculosis treatment was noninferior to 6 months of treatment in children with drug-susceptible, nonsevere, smear-negative tuberculosis. (Funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and others; SHINE ISRCTN number, ISRCTN63579542.).
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- Antitubercular Agents/administration & dosage
- Child, Preschool
- Drug Administration Schedule
- Drug Therapy, Combination
- Intention to Treat Analysis
- Isoniazid/administration & dosage
- Patient Acuity
- Pyrazinamide/administration & dosage
- Rifampin/administration & dosage
- Treatment Outcome
- Tuberculosis/drug therapy