Pneumococcal urinary antigen test is a valuable tool for diagnosing pneumococcal pneumonia and meningitis in adults. Its use in children is generally not accepted because of nonspecificity at this age. It is frequently positive in asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carriers.
The aim of our study was to assess the age limit from which the test is no longer positive in asymptomatic healthy carriers.
A total of 197 children aged 36–83 months attending 9 day care centers in Prague were enrolled during February and March 2010. Nasopharyngeal swab specimens were collected from each participant and selectively cultivated. The presence of pneumococcal antigen in urine was detected by BinaxNOW® S. pneumoniae kit.
Streptococcus pneumoniae was cultivated in 53.3 % of healthy children with the highest colonization rate (59.3 %) in children aged 48–59 months. The most frequently colonizing serotypes were: 19F, 23F, 3, 19A, 6B and 4. The presence of pneumococcal antigen in urine decreased with age from 39.0 % in 36–47 months to 17.9 % in 72–83 months old (p = 0.031). The antigen positivity was serotype-dependent and more frequent in nonvaccinated children.
We demonstrated age-dependent linear decrease of pneumococcal antigen excretion into urine in healthy children. The positivity rate of the test in children aged 72–83 months was similar to that referred in healthy adults, irrespective of colonization. To confirm this age limit for use of this test in diagnostics of pneumococcal diseases, further study in school-age children is justified.