Leprosy remains an important public health and social issue in South Asia, particularly in India. Its presence in childhood is an immense social burden on account of the associated disabilities and widely prevalent misconceptions regarding communicability and treatment potential. Besides, the prevalence of leprosy among children suggests possible lacunae in the operation of the national programmes aimed at elimination of leprosy from the society. This paper reports a ten year retrospective study of childhood leprosy in a tertiary care hospital setting (2000 to 2009). Selected socio epidemiologic correlates of pediatric leprosy patients presenting to the hospital over the past ten year period were also studied. The results indicated that childhood leprosy was 5.1% of total leprosy patients registered in the given time frame. Majorities (76.3%) of them were males and had paucibacillary leprosy (74%). Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) scar was absent in 53% of children. More than a third (35%) cases had a household contact with leprosy. Childhood leprosy remains an important public health problem and bears a significant social impact. Early detection and appropriate prophylactic measures in susceptible children is pivotal to the real success of the National leprosy elimination programme.
Key words: Leprosy, childhood, society.
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