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Ethnic variation in BCG uptake rate

White children who fall in risk groups for tuberculosis are missing out on the BCG vaccine under the current selective neonatal immunisation policy, a study warns.

The school BGC programme was dropped in July last year in favour of a selective programme for those at high risk, including babies and new immigrants.

But researchers found uptake among eligible white British infants was only 39 per cent compared with more than 80 per cent for Asian and black African infants.

They urged GPs to check the vaccination status of high-risk infants in routine appointments.

Study leader Dr Mazim Alfaham, consultant paediatrician at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, said: 'The low uptake among white British infants may be attributed to the failure of health care professionals to appreciate that among this ethnic grouping there are certain infants at increased risk of TB,' he said.

The study looked at all babies immunised with BCG within Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust in one year and identified 514 babies at risk of TB.

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