Not deworming can cause malnutrition, intestinal perforation, death –Paediatricians

Not deworming can cause malnutrition, intestinal perforation, death –Paediatricians

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Paediatricians have urged parents to ensure regular deworming of their under-five children to avoid complications associated with worm infestations.

They noted that not deworming children as specified by the World Health Organisation can lead to malnutrition, low blood count, intestinal perforation and death.

According to the WHO, periodic deworming programmes with a single-tablet treatment can drastically reduce the suffering of those infected with parasitic intestinal worms and protect the 1.5 billion people currently estimated to be at risk.

A Consultant Paediatrician, Nephrology Division, Federal Medical Centre, Katsina State, Dr. Abdurrazzaq Alege, explained that deworming is a way of removing intestinal worms from the body.

He said failure to deworm a child can lead to shortage of blood, loss of iron in the body and stunted growth.

“Some of these worms suck blood from the body, especially hookworms, and this may result to the child passing out blood in the urine and stool.

“There may also be chronic blood loss from the intestine and as a result, the child can have anaemia.

“The worms could feed on the host tissues, and iron content will be lost. Iron is a micronutrient necessary for several developments in the body. So, this is also an implication.

“Evidence of malnutrition can be seen in a child that has too many worms in the body. Once the child is malnourished, the child would not grow well and will appear stunted. So these are complications that can happen as a result of having too many worms in the body,” Dr. Alege said.

The paediatrician warned that failure to deworm children puts them at the risk of developing worm balls, which can block the intestine and lead to intestinal perforation.

The worms responsible for intestinal blockage, he said, are the roundworms, known asascariasis.

Dr. Alege said a child with fewer worms in the body experiences better growth.

He added, “However, most of the worms especially the hook worms mop up the blood and with this, there can be reduction in nutrients that are essential for overall body growth, including the brain.

“A child that has too many worms in the body will not eat well and a child that is not eating well will not get the necessary nutrients necessary to function well, especially to nourish the brain.

“A child that is dewormed regularly will have a better outcome in terms of growth and cognitive function,” the expert said.

He noted that one predisposing risk factor for worm infestation is unhygienic surroundings as the parasites are common in the soil.

“Once you have a perfect hygienic environment, then there will be less risk of a child developing worm infestation.

“It is important to not just deworm a child every six months, the government and health communities also have a responsibility of reducing the risk in the community by having schools administer necessary medications for deworming,” he said.

Dr. Alege further said that the environment plays a crucial role, in the sense that not everyone is privileged to have a good source of water or a good sewage disposal system.

“What is recommended is that the distance between a pit latrine and an underground well should not be less than 10 meters apart because once it is close to each other, there may be risk of the water getting contaminated,” he said.

The medical expert emphasised that in an extreme case, if a child is not dewormed, it can result in death.

“A typical example is if a child has too many worms in the body because he is not regularly dewormed. If there is so much blood loss, it can throw the child into severe anaemia, and if the child is not given blood immediately, death may occur.

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