Childhood leprosy in a tertiary-care hospital in Delhi, India: a reappraisal in the post-elimination era.Lepr Rev. 2011 Sep; 82(3):259-69.LR
To assess the profile and describe the clinical presentations, clinico-histopathological profile, complications and treatment compliance of childhood leprosy at a tertiary care hospital in north-east district of Delhi during 2000-2009.
A retrospective institutional study of children less than 14 years of age diagnosed with leprosy and registered in a leprosy clinic during 2000-2009. Demographic, clinical, investigative and treatment data was extracted from a pre-designed proforma.
A total of 1790 cases of leprosy were registered during this period, of which 172 (9.6%) were children. The majority of patients (70.3%) were more than 11 years of age with a male preponderance. History of contact was present in 25 (14.5%) patients. Borderline tuberculoid (BT) was the commonest clinical type (70.3%) followed by tuberculoid (TT) seen in 5.8%, mid-borderline (BB) in 1.2%, borderline lepromatous (BL) in 9.9%, lepromatous (LL) in 4.1%, pure neural (PNL) in 4.6% and indeterminate in 4.1% cases. More than half (52.9%) patients had a single lesion. Nerve thickening was detected in 70% cases. Slit skin smears were positive in 34 (19.8%) patients. Eighty-nine (51.7%) children were classified as multibacillary (MB) and 83 (48.3%) as paucibacillary (PB) disease by NLEP criteria. Of the available biopsy records, clinico-histological correlation was observed in 130/151 (86.1%) patients. Lepra reactions were observed in 32 patients (18.6%), Type I in 29 cases and Type II in three cases. Neuritis occurred in 11 (6.4%) and deformities in 22 (12.8%) patients. Thirty-four (19-8%) children defaulted from treatment. Two patients relapsed.
Despite the statistical elimination of leprosy in this region, childhood leprosy cases continue to present in alarming numbers. Our study confirmed that multibacillary disease and the complications of lepra reactions and deformities remain common in children. Early detection, treatment and contact tracing may be important reducing the burden of leprosy in the community. There is a need to continue leprosy control activities with full vigour even in areas where, statistically, it has been eliminated.