Worm infestation in children is very commonly seen in India. The common worm infestations are Threadworm (Enterobius vermicularis), Round Worm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and Hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale).
Your baby can get worms from:
Infected soil :This is the most common way children get worms.These worms thrive in any soil that is dirty and damp. Children can get infected from walking on infected soil barefoot, from unclean hands or from food.
Infected water areas :Playing, bathing and swimming in lakes, dams and puddles with worms, or drinking and eating food contaminated by the water, can cause a worminfection.
Undercooked or infected food: Worm eggs stay on plants and vegetables that have not been thoroughly washed. We can get infected by eating these vegetables. Meat and fish that are raw, or not well cooked, can carry worms and infections.
Contact with an infected person: If someone your baby is in contact with has worms, they can pass the infection on to your baby if they do not have proper hygiene. Worm eggs can remain under fingernails or on badly washed hands and can pass on from there to your baby's toys or directly into her mouth.
Between 10 and 50 percent of children carry threadworms, and due to their somewhat cavalier personal hygiene practices (nail biting, thumb sucking,general disinterest in soap), are prone to infecting each other and family members.
Poor disposal of human faeces leads to hookworm larvae hatching in soil.Human infection occurs when skin (usually bare feet) is exposed to the contaminated soil.
Symptoms of worm infestation
a. The child complains of a stomach pain off and on after eating his food.
b. Lack of appetite and poor digestion.
c. Child looks weak and sick and anaemic.
d. Sometimes a larger bunch of worms may block the intestinal tract and cause total constipation, abdominal distension and vomitting.
e. Itching round the anal region.
Threadworms infestation presents with bottom itching, restlessness and irritability from interrupted sleep. You spot a threadworm or two in your child’s bowl movement or in her underpants.
a.Worm infestation is a mild disease and can be quickly and well treated with modern drugs which are freely available in the market.(Mebendazole,albendazole,pyrantal pamoate)
b. It is very important to treat the child and all family members, including servants at the same time, to prevent chances of re-infection because any member of the family can be a carrier and a constant source of infection.
a.Wash thoroughly carrots, radishes, onion and salad leaves or any food eaten raw.
b.Drinking water should be filtered and boiled. Care should be taken that prepared food and drinking water do not get contaminated through unhygienic handling by a person carrying ova in the finger-nails.
c. Child should be cleaned properly after passing the stool, and his faeces disposed off properly.
d. Washing of the hands after passing stool and before eating is mandatory.
e. Nails should be kept short and clean, as the nails are places where the ova of the worms usually reside. f. In case of threadworm infection, where anal itching is present, it is advisable to apply a suitable cream.
g. The underclothes should be changed daily and bed linen kept clean.
h. Avoid playing barefoot in the fields where the soil may be contaminated with the ova of the hookworm.
i. Regular deworming done helps in preventing infestation.
Many parents believe that children get worms from drinking milk and that certain types of worms arise in the body from the milk that is drunk by the child.
Some others believe that sugar and sweets induce worms in the body. There is no truth whatsoever in these beliefs.
The only way for any item of food to cause worm infestation is by that article of food being contaminated with worm eggs.
Other false beliefs -
Position that a child assumes during sleep such as sleeping prone with the bottom pointing upwards, restlessness during sleep, teeth grinding while asleep and some protuberance of the tummy are all indicators of worm infestation.