De-worming is a preventive measure to avoid intestinal infections in children through prophylactics (a medicine or course of action used to prevent disease). Unfortunately, in India, we don’t give much importance to de-worming children unless the paediatrician recommends it.
World Health Organisation studies show that in developing countries like India, preschool children (2-5 years of age), school age children and pregnant women (second and third trimester) are at risk and would benefit from de-worming.
A Little About Intestinal Worms
Intestinal worms are of different kinds. Ringworms, tapeworms, pinworms, round worms etc. They are all parasites. Which means, they live off their host, in this case us, by drawing nutrition and causing infections.
How Do Children Contract Intestinal Worms?
Worm eggs can be picked in many ways. From pets, clothing and bed linen, eating uncooked food, unwashed fruits and raw vegetables, walking/playing barefoot and from poor hygiene surroundings. Worm eggs are very minute and cannot be seen by the naked eye. They float in the air and can be easily infested.
Toddlers and infants are constantly touching things and putting their hands in their mouth. If the object is contaminated, the worms and eggs enter the baby’s body, grow inside and infect the baby.
Your Child Could Also Get Infected By:
- Walking/ playing barefoot – threadworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms all thrive in dirty and damp soil.
- Drinking unsafe and contaminated water
- Eating undercooked and infected food which have not been washed properly
- Contact with an infected person
How To Treat Worm Infection
De-worming is the most effective and best way to treat worm infection. Fortunately, most worm infections can be treated through oral medication. However, it is important, not to administer any of these drugs without getting the right prescription from the paediatrician.
Signs That Tell Your Baby Has Worms
Worm infestations can easily go unnoticed as the symptoms are mild and gradual. Some of the signs you can look out for are: irritable behavior, sore tummy and weight loss.
Some Other Signs Of Worm Infestations Are:
- Loss of appetite due to discomfort in the tummy
- Anemia (hookworms)
- Itching around the anus (thread or pin worms
- Trouble sleeping, because of the itchiness
- Painful and frequent urination due to urinary tract infection – this is more common in girls
- Blood in the stool
The most common infection is through threadworms. They look like thick threads and are generally half a centimeter long.
Prevention Is The Best Cure
10 things you can do to protect your little one from worm infections:
- Consult your doctor and give your child deworming medications every 6 months.
- Keep the house clean; use a good disinfectant
- Keep baby’s nails short and clean. It’s easy for worm eggs to get caught under long fingernails
- Ensure that your child does not play barefoot when outdoors
- If your child plays in a sand pit, make sure she doesn’t put her hand in the mouth unless you’ve washed it thoroughly
- Drink safe/ boiled/ filtered water
- Keep your toilet clean.
- Make sure, every member of your family washes their hands with soap before meals and after the toilet.
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly in clean water.
- Do not eat undercooked/raw food