Jump to Topics

Deworming: a quick fix to wormy woes

Deworming: a quick fix to wormy woes

Worms inhabiting children’s intestines can rob them of vital nutrients. Periodic deworming is the one-step solution to keep these parasites at bay

Deworming, child

There are no two ways about the fact that good nutrition is essential for a child’s optimal growth and well-being. A child’s body can host several worms that absorb nutrients, creating roadblocks to holistic development. Deworming is a potent weapon to keep these worms away.

Deworming a child: How does it help?

Dr Sandip Gupta, senior pediatrician and pediatric intensivist, MediHelp Children’s Clinic, Bengaluru, tells Happiest Health, “children tend to attract parasites due to poor hygiene. These organisms reside in the intestine and suck blood, giving way to blood loss and malabsorption. Deworming is the process of killing these worms so that the child’s health isn’t affected by the worm infestation.”

When to deworm a child

Shedding light on how the worms enter the body, Dr Keshav Murthy, pediatric surgeon, pediatric urologist and professor, RajaRajeswari Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru, says that the parasites are transmitted through fecal-oral contamination (through food and water contaminated by stool). “Poor hygiene can get the contaminated fecal matter into our mouth. If a child is playing in mud infected by worms, the eggs of the parasites can get deposited in the nailbed. Eating contaminated vegetables and meat can also cause worms if not cooked properly,” he says.

Elaborating further, Dr Gupta says, “soil-transmitted helminths (STH or intestinal worms) reproduce by forming cysts (eggs). These cysts are released from the infected person’s body through their stool. The stools can contaminate waterbodies and seep into the soil, polluting it. The cysts get transmitted to an uninfected person who comes in contact with the soil, especially children who play in the soil and don’t wash their mouths. In areas with open defecation and poor sanitation, the chances of worm infestation are higher”.

Deworming drugs paralyse worms

According to Dr Ravishankara Marpalli, senior consultant at SS Sparsh Hospital, Bengaluru, albendazole, mebendazole and pyrantel pamoate are common deworming medicines. “They can be ingested in tablet as well as syrup form and can be taken over the counter,” says Dr Marpalli.

“Deworming medicines paralyse the worms including hookworms, pinworms and ringworms. Muscle paralysis impedes their bodily functions like digestion, causing their death. The dead worms are expelled out of the body through stools,” he says.

In agreement with Dr Marpalli, Dr Murthy adds, “deworming can attack the worms in the ova-cyst stage of development, thereby obstructing further development and spread.”

Why is deworming important?

Deworming is an important preventive healthcare measure. The prolonged presence of worms in the body can pose several mental and physical health threats.

“The most common consequence is anemia, which is a lack of hemoglobin in the body. Malabsorption is another consequence which leads to growth deficiencies in the child,” says Dr Gupta.

He points out that the child may experience itching around the perianal area (near the anus) because of the area being bitten by the worms. “Children may also have loose stools and these worms can sometimes be spotted in the stool,” he adds.

Dr Murthy points out that many children lose their appetite and tend to start losing weight. “They may also develop recurrent gastro-intestinal infections, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM),” he says.

Dr Anant Kini, Manoshri Children’s Clinic, Goa, says that most parents are aware of the importance of deworming, but they usually don’t go to doctors specifically for deworming their children. Nevertheless, they do enquire about deworming practices and the frequency. “When parents are in doubt about deworming their child straightaway, we suggest a stool examination to check for worms,” says Dr Kini.

When should you start deworming your child?

According to Dr Murthy, deworming can be done as soon as the child reaches the age of one. He recommends that it should be done every six months until 18-20 years.

Dr Marpalli suggests that children who have greater exposure to unhygienic conditions require deworming regularly and adds that deworming should be done religiously once they cross the age of two. “When the child is two years or more, they tend to move around and play outdoors more frequently. As a result, the chances of being infected by the parasitic worms increase manifold.”

Who should avoid deworming?

Dr Murthy discourages deworming while the child has abdominal pain. “Sometimes, parents mistake abdominal pain to be caused by worms and give deworming medicine to the child. This can lead to the formation of a worm bolus (a large mass of tangled worms) that can block the intestine. One must wait for one week after the abdominal pain subsides before the medicine is given,” he says.

He also recommends zinc and probiotics following deworming. “Once the worms start dying, the bacterial flora (good bacteria) in the gut needs to be replenished by using probiotics. This increases the absorption of food, making the child healthier. Zinc is a micronutrient which is very essential for gut immunity and it can prevent a lot of infections.”

Dr Marpalli says that there are no side effects to deworming recorded until now. A few occasional side effects can be nausea and loose stools.

Nobel laureate emphasised deworming benefits

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) hosted professor Michael Kremer, Nobel laureate in economics, at its headquarters in Geneva in 2021, he emphasised the benefits of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and deworming. Presenting a review, Kremer demonstrated the benefits of deworming on weight and mid-upper arm circumference, height and hemoglobin, which he said confirms the validity of the WHO’s recommendations on deworming children who are exposed to or at risk of soil-transmitted helminthiases.

A campaign aiming at deworming

National deworming day is observed on February 1 every year by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for children in the age group of 1-19 to prevent parasitic worm infection. ‘This infection not only impairs the physical growth of the children but also causes micronutrient deficiencies, poor cognitive performances and school absenteeism in children,’ as per the government of India’s observations.

Share Your Experience/Comments

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. According to American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Keeping the blood flow active, even partially, extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site. It is an important lifesaving first-aid tool that can be performed by anyone.
A new lifestyle adaptation seems to be about breaking a set of habits that are not as innocuous as they are believed to be
Chocolates have been credited for providing better heart health. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2020, eating chocolate at least once a week helps reduce the risk of heart disease. The study says that eating chocolate more than once a week was associated with an eight per cent decreased risk of coronary artery disease. But how does one choose a good dark chocolate? Watch to find out.
People with vitamin D deficiency have a lower insulin secretion than those with optimal levels of the vitamin, according to some studies




Opt-in To Our Daily Newsletter

* Please check your Spam folder for the Opt-in confirmation mail
We use cookies to customize your user experience, view our policy here

Your feedback has been submitted successfully.

The Happiest Health team will reach out to you at the earliest