Cochrane Summaries

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Deworming drugs for treating soil-transmitted intestinal worms in children: effects on nutrition and school performance

Taylor-Robinson DC, Maayan N, Soares-Weiser K, Donegan S, Garner P
Published Online: 
14 November 2012

The main soil-transmitted worms are roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Infections are common in tropical and subtropical areas, particularly in children from low-income areas where there is inadequate sanitation, overcrowding, low levels of education, and lack of access to health care. These infections sometimes cause malnutrition, poor growth, and anaemia in children, and some experts believe they cause poor performance at school. While improved sanitation and hygiene are likely to be helpful, drugs can also be used. In one approach, individuals found to be infected on screening are treated. Evidence from these trials suggests this probably improves weight and may improve haemoglobin values, but the evidence base is small. In another approach, currently recommended by the WHO, and much more extensively investigated, all school children are treated. In trials that follow up children after a single dose of deworming, and after multiple doses with follow up for over a year, we do not know if these programmes have an effect on weight, height, school attendance, or school performance; they may have little or no effect on haemoglobin or cognition.

One trial of a million children examined death and was completed in 2005 but the authors have not yet published the results.

This record should be cited as: 
Taylor-Robinson DC, Maayan N, Soares-Weiser K, Donegan S, Garner P. Deworming drugs for soil-transmitted intestinal worms in children: effects on nutritional indicators, haemoglobin and school performance. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD000371. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000371.pub5
Assessed as up to date: 
31 May 2012