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 Children's Health

August 2010
De-worming Your Child
Dr. Kalpana Dash
 
Your child might not be a bookworm, but his ‘friends list’ might still include hookworm, pinworm, round worm, tapeworm and whipworm. Worm infestation is a major problem in children of developing countries due to bad hygienic conditions.

Worm infestations often cause serious health problems and impact a child’s ability to attend and perform well in school. It produces nutritional deficiencies, anaemia, stunted physical and mental growth, psycho-social problems and repeated gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tract infections.

All these contribute to high morbidity in children and remain a major cause of high infant and child mortality in our country. Low socio-economic status, poor sanitation, coupled with low literacy rates of parents, particularly the mothers, are the main causes of this problem.

Wormed Out
  • 1.5 billion people have roundworms, making it the third most common human infection in the world
  • Whipworms infect 1 billion people, including one third of all children in Africa
  • More than 1.3 billion people carry hookworms in their gut - these parasites are moving inside them all the time

Recommended Solution
A UNICEF report says that regular de-worming can substantially increase school attendance and can significantly improve children’s ability to learn in school. The growth rate and weight gain of children who are regularly de-wormed is higher than those who are not. Hence regular de-worming is the best solution for many of the childhood illnesses.

Frequency of De-worming
If a child bites his/her nails, is not eating well, or is eating too much but not gaining weight – their grandparents used to be quick to spot that the child has worms. In their absence in today’s nuclear families, these points could help.
  • De-worming your children once every six months is sufficient.
  • But, if you suspect that your child is getting worms more frequently, then de-worm your child and the whole family more frequently, as advised by your primary physician.
  • Except tapeworms (as in the case of pinworm or whipworm infection), a second dose may be necessary after two weeks or 73-75 days after the first dose to break the life-cycle or to kill the migrating larval forms of these parasites.
  • In any case, de-worming the whole family twice a year is necessary.
  • The corner stone of preventing worm infestations is by providing adequate disposal of faeces.
  • Mebendazole or Albendazole in suspension or chewable tablet form is the conventional drug of choice.
  • The side effects are insignificant. If at all, you encounter any side effects, remember that they are caused by dead worms being expelled from the body, rather than by the drug itself.
9 Ways to Get Worms
  • A simple lick from your pet
  • Walking barefoot
  • Swimming in a reservoir or a pool with untreated water
  • Forgetting to wash hands thoroughly before eating
  • Preparing foods after gardening
  • Taking unwashed salads
  • Drinking untreated water or milk
  • Taking under cooked meat
  • School going children can get eggs and larvae of these parasites from their classmates
Dr. Kalpana Dash is Senoir Consultant Apollo Hospitals, Bilaspur


    
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