Deworming Toddlers: Is It Really Necessary?

Warning: You might find this post a bit gross and it might also freak you out.

The past weekend was quite a busy one. I took N to her godmother / pediatrician for her well baby check-up in the morning and did some interview about the possibility of “deworming” her. This move was brought about by the articles that I’ve been reading recently about the presence of common intestinal worms in children who live in developing countries like the Philippines.

worm-in-toddlers

My daughter is not showing any symptom at all that she needs to be dewormed. But as a mother, I want to be proactive about it since I noticed that she enjoys playing on barefoot these past few days. I got a little worried because growing up, I used to hear the adults in the family say, “Mag-tsinelas kayo, sige kayo bubulatihin kayo!” (Wear your slippers now, or else, the worms will get into you.) Growing up, I thought this was just a hilarious joke circulating in the family, but now I realized that there is really much truth to it.

Today, I will be collating for you some of the findings that I came across with while researching about Deworming Toddlers.

Causes of Worm Infection

  • Infected soil 

This is the most common way children get worms, which include threadworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms. These worms thrive in any soil that is dirty and damp. Children can get infected from walking barefoot on infected soil, from unclean hands or from food.

  • Infected water areas

Some types of worms breed in water. They can be found in lakes, dams and puddles. Playing, bathing and swimming in these areas, or drinking and eating food contaminated by the water, can cause a worm infection. Children tend to be affected the most as their immune systems are weaker than those of adults.

  • Undercooked or infected food 

Worm eggs stay on plants and vegetables that have not been thoroughly washed. We can get infected by eating these vegetables.  Animals that live along water areas, such as fish and cattle, can also be sick. So meat and fish that are raw, or not well cooked, can carry worms and infections.

  • Contact with an infected person 

If someone your baby is in contact with has worms, they can pass the infection on to your baby if they do not have proper hygiene. Worm eggs can remain under fingernails or on badly washed hands and can pass on from there to your baby’s toys or directly into her mouth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns us about the soil-transmitted helminths that could affect the nutritional status of its host.

  • feeding on host tissues, including blood, which leads to a loss of iron and protein
  • increasing malabsorption of nutrients.

“Some soil-transmitted helminths also cause loss of appetite and therefore a reduction of nutrition intake and physical fitness. The nutritional impairment caused by soil-transmitted helminths is recognized to have a significant impact on growth and physical development. To reduce the worm burden, WHO recommends periodic drug treatment (deworming) of all children living in endemic areas. WHO also recommends health and hygiene education, and the provision of adequate sanitation.”

According to what I’ve researched, with or without worms, deworming should be done as soon as a child reaches his first birthday. If we will follow this guideline, N’s already a year late based on the recommendation because she’s now 2 years 7 months old. However, it’s ok because some experts also recommend deworming at age 2.

Common Symptoms of Worm Infection in Children

According to BabyCenter:

“Most often a worm infestation does not show symptoms or the symptoms may be so slight and gradual that they are overlooked. But a child with worms may have a sore tummy, weight loss and may be irritable.”

  • loss of appetite due to the pain or discomfort in the tummy
  • anemia – especially with hookworms
  • a rash – especially hives (urticaria)
  • nausea
  • itching or pain around the anus (bum), where the worms entered – this is true particularly for thread or pin worms.
  • trouble sleeping, because of the itchiness
  • constant coughs
  • painful and frequent urination due to urinary tract infection – this is more common in girls
  • blood in the stool
  • vomiting – this is rare but children can vomit out round worms.
  • diarrhoea – this is also rare.
  • very rarely if there are very many worms, there can be a blockage of the intestines.

Also according to my daughter’s pedia, yes, she also recommended N to undergo deworming by giving her 5ml of Mebendazole (Antiox) twice a day for 3 consecutive days. In these 3 days, I should always carefully examine N’s stool for the presence of any intestinal worm. If I find nothing after 3 days, it means N’s worm-free and deworming will be repeated next year.

Practical Ways to Avoid Worm Infection

These tips should come in handy for us moms by BabyCenter:

  • washes her hands well with soap after playing outdoors or with pets and before each and every meal
  • change your baby’s nappies regularly
  • only eats salads, fruits and vegetables that have been washed well
  • does not eat under-cooked meat
  • always wears shoes when she is in the park or at day care or school
  • make sure your child only relieves herself in a clean toilet
  • keep your toilet clean
  • swims only in pools where the hygiene norms are met
  • drinks water that is boiled or filtered
  • never shares water bottles in school
  • keep your child away from sand pits and moist soil
  • clean your house often and well, with a good disinfectant.
  • keep your child’s nails short and clean. Worm eggs can get caught under long fingernails and spread around the house
  • if you have a household help who is in constant contact with your child, make sure she keeps good hygiene as well

Better safe than sorry. Be proactive and consult your child’s pediatrician or your family doctor to understand worm infection better.

What age did you start deworming your child? Any tips to share? ♥

9 comments

  1. gina says:

    I need your advise guys, I felt that my daughter needs to undergo deworming, but she is 1 yr. & 2 mos. old, is she capable to undergo? thanks,

  2. kawie says:

    there will always be that stage that children will explore thus our worries about parasites. our daughter’s pedia gave her antiox when she was two. then as advised we let her drink fruit juices mixed with celery and pomelo from time to time

  3. Donnad says:

    when my son’s pedia said he must be dewormed, i never thought that something is wrong with him, it is just a normal procedure that everyone undergo =) and yes, i didn’t find any worms when he pooped during the deworming period =)

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