Among children worldwide worms (intestinal helminth infections: roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms) negatively affect the health and growth of children. Tropical and subtropical areas have the highest incidence. Thankfully, these worms are easily treated. Mass treatment in areas with a lot of worms makes a significant difference in the health of children.
What Happens in the Body:
Some types of worms enter the body in the immature stage directly through the skin. Others enter the body as eggs through contaminated food. Most of the worms grow into the adult stage in the intestines. It’s here that they cause the most trouble. The worms can cause inflammation, and keep the intestines from absorbing nutrients. The worms can also cause diarrhea and/or intestinal bleeding resulting iron deficiency anemia. This can affect the child’s growth and overall health. Children infested with worms are more malnourished, have decreased growth, and don’t learn as well as healthy children. Also, these children are more likely to get more severely ill from tuberculosis or malaria. Untreated worm infestations can cause obstruction, requiring surgical intervention.
It’s difficult to prevent worms when living in Africa. Washing hands with soap and water before eating can help. Also, wearing socks and shoes can make a difference. In the end, when living in Africa, it’s best to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendations and routinely deworm children.
The World Health Organization recommends deworming either yearly or twice a year for all children living in areas with a heavy worm burden (that includes Malawi).
In Malawi children should deworm every 6 months with Albendazole 400 mg for children 2 years and up.
Children 12 months to 2 years should receive Albendazole 200 mg every 6 months.