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Annu Rev Nutr. 2002;22:35-59. Epub 2002 Jan 4.

Nutritional impact of intestinal helminthiasis during the human life cycle.

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  • 1WHO Collaborating Centre for Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland.


Poor people in developing countries endure the burden of disease caused by four common species of soil-transmitted nematode that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Disease accompanying these infections is manifested mainly as nutritional disturbance, with the differing infections having their deleterious effects at different phases during the human life cycle. Reduced food intake, impaired digestion, malabsorption, and poor growth rate are frequently observed in children suffering from ascariasis and trichuriasis. Poor iron status and iron deficiency anemia are the hallmarks of hookworm disease. The course and outcome of pregnancy, growth, and development during childhood and the extent of worker productivity are diminished during hookworm disease. Less is known about the impact of these infections in children under 2 years of age. The severity of disease caused by soil-transmitted nematodes has consistently been found to depend on the number of worms present per person. Cost-effective measures based on highly efficacious anthelminthic drugs are now available to reduce and control disease caused by these infections.

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