It’s August and we’ve begun to hear the ads on the radio and Tv for “de-worming medicine”
Here’s Dr Solomon on the evidence about why we should or should not be giving worm medicine to our children if they are well and do not have symptoms.”How many of us Trinidadians are accustomed to our grandmother, aunty or “tanty” asking us if we gave our kids a “worm out” yet?
Let us examine this practice…
How do we get worm infections?
Well…Intestinal worm infection typically occurs when we eat products containing worm eggs. This can happen when we put our hands or fingers that have been contaminated with worm eggs found in dirt in our mouth or by consuming vegetables or fruit that have not been properly washed, peeled, or cooked. Some types of worms also enter our body when we walk barefoot in contaminated soil.
What are the signs and symptoms of having worms?
Most kids will just get an “itchy bottom”. So, if you see them with their hands in their pants, this is something to consider. More serious worm infections can cause low blood count, malnutrition, impaired growth and affect thinking and school performance; however, this tends to occur mostly in regions which lack access to running water, basic sanitation, or have poor hygiene and living conditions.
What does medical science say?
In 2017, The WHO recommended that all school children be treated at regular intervals in regions where intestinal worm infections are common; however, there are newer studies which show that deworming in the absence of symptoms is not beneficial. A recent Cochrane review showed that there was no improvement in school performance, growth or anaemia or mortality.
So, what do we do? Do we give our kids a “worm out” or not?
There are areas in Trinidad where people may not have access to basic sanitation like running water and in these cases, children should be regularly dewormed. However, in most areas in Trinidad and Tobago good sanitation and basic hygiene are not an issue and there is low probability of contracting worm infections. In these cases, the research does not support a need to deworm children. ”
If you think that your child has symptoms of a worm infection, may have been exposed to worms or you have any additional questions, please come into the clinic and one of our medical professionals would be happy to discuss this further with you. The test is simple as is the treatment … but please do not blindly teat them yourself. Dr Solomon is here every other Saturday for Consultations.