Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

The pivotal relationship between heavy metal exposures and tuberculosis in Bangladeshi children

Rehnuma Haque, MBBS, MPH, PhD


BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death among Bangladeshi children. Exposure to heavy metals causes immunosuppression and is one of the predisposing factors that may lead to development of respiratory tract infections in children. The incidence and prevalence of all forms of TB for all age groups was 224/100,000 and 402/100,000 population in 2013 and 2015, respectively1; In 2020, 1.1 million children diagnosed with TB globally and pediatric TB is often overlooked by health providers and can be challenging to diagnose and treat3. GAP: There is growing evidence that exposure to chemicals is a risk factor for precipitating infectious diseases 4. Nevertheless, there is limited or no research available in Bangladesh to assess the predisposing environmental factors of TB in children. HYPOTHESIS: Children in Bangladesh are exposed to high concentrations of heavy metals (As, Pb, Cd, Cr, Hg etc.), and these exposures contribute to immune modulation, thereby precipitating to respiratory tract infections such as pulmonary TB. METHODS: Case-control study. Our study will compare exposure to heavy metals among children (<15years) diagnosed with TB (cases) and matched healthy children (controls) in the Dhaka region, Bangladesh. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: This research will provide pilot data, so larger studies can be carried out to uncover the potential causal pathway connecting environmental metals to tuberculosis and inform interventions to improve children's health. Website Link: