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BMJ. 1999 Jan 23;318(7178):214.

Intestinal worms impair child health in the Philippines.



The Philippines' Department of Health believes that up to 90% of children in the country could be prone to poor physical and mental development because the problem of intestinal worms has gone largely unchecked. A nationwide study conducted over 10 years by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports found a prevalence of 50-90% in children aged 2-14 years. Up to 30% of the population of 22 million children may have 1 or more of the 3 most common types of soil transmitted helminths: roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm. Infection with such worms through ingestion, skin penetration, or both, often affects children's performance in school because it can stunt growth, decrease physical activity, and cause poor physical and mental development. The most common symptoms of worm infestation are pain, enlargement of the abdomen, loss of appetite and weight, vomiting, insomnia, and irregular respiration. Worms thrive in tropical climates and are endemic to many developing countries. Infestation, however, is easily dealt with; 1 dose of albendazole given once per year for 3 years is enough to eradicate worms in a child. A pilot project launched last year in 2 villages in Aurora province in northern Luzon has thus far yielded encouraging results.

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