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Lack of Weight Gain May Predict Tuberculosis Relapse

Study finds increased risk in underweight patients who gain little weight during therapy

TUESDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Underweight tuberculosis patients who regain less than 5 percent of their weight during the first two months of intensive therapy are significantly more likely to relapse, according to a study in the August issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Awal D. Khan, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues studied 857 TB patients for two years, 61 of whom (7.1 percent) relapsed.

Among patients who were initially underweight (defined as 10 percent or more below their ideal weight), the researchers found a higher relapse rate in those who regained less than 5 percent of their weight, compared to those who gained more than 5 percent (18.4 versus 10.3 percent). Among underweight patients with a cavity on chest radiograph and positive sputum culture after two months of therapy, there was an even higher relapse rate (50.5 versus 18.5 percent).

"It is surprising that little attention has been paid to such a readily measured and inexpensive marker," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "If such a relationship between body weight and outcome can be reproduced in large TB programs under diversified service settings, this relatively simple finding could be translated into very significant clinical benefits, especially in resource-limited settings."

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