How common are worm infections in children?
Globally, more than 836 million children are at risk of worm infections. In India, 241 million children between the ages of 1 and 14 years are at risk of parasitic worms.
What are intestinal worms?
Worms are a type of parasites that live in the child’s intestines and eat the nutrients the child needs for healthy growth and development.
According to the World Health Organization, soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most common infections in humans, caused by a group of parasites commonly referred to as worms, including roundworms, whipworms and hookworms.
How does a child get worms?
Worms are transmitted by eggs that are passed in the faeces of infected people. These eggs can contaminate the soil in areas that lack proper hygiene and sanitation.
There are several causes of worms in children. Below, are some of the common ways through which kids can fall victim to parasitic worms:
Infected water: Drinking contaminated water can cause worm infestation in children
Infected food: Consumption of vegetables that have not been washed, peeled and cooked properly
Playing in contaminated soil
Kids tend to put their hands in their mouth after playing without washing them
Children can get infected with hookworm from walking barefoot or crawling on infected soil, as these larvae can penetrate the skin of the feet.
What are the signs and symptoms of a worm infection?
While mild infections often go unnoticed, more severe worm infections can lead to 2
Loss of appetite
Diarrhoea and abdominal pain
General malaise and weakness
Decrease in physical performance
Anaemia (caused by hookworm only)
Vitamin A deficiency (results in blindness, dry eyes)
Poor performance at school
What Is Deworming?
Deworming means taking medications to get rid of all the worms. The deworming process includes the use of anthelmintics medication. If you suspect an infection, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- MoHFW, Government of India. National Deworming Day [Internet]. Available at: https://www.nhp.gov.in/national-deworming-day_pg. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
- Press Information Bureau. Government of India. New De-worming Initiative launched to make India Worm Free [Internet]. Available at: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/mberel.aspx?relid=115328. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
- World Health Organization. Intestinal worms [Internet]. Available at: https://www.who.int/intestinal_worms/more/en/. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
- World Health Organization. Soil-transmitted helminth infections [Internet]. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/soil-transmitted-helmin.... Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
- World Health Organization. Soil Transmitted Parasites- roundworms, hookworms, whipworms [Internet]. Available at: https://www.who.int/intestinal_worms/resources/en/teacher_eng.pdf. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.