e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Deworming in children

Soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most common infections in humans, caused by a group of parasites commonly referred to as worms, including roundworms, whipworms and hookworms. Those living in poverty are most vulnerable to infection which can impair nutritional status by causing:

  • internal bleeding which can lead to loss of iron and anaemia;
  • intestinal inflammation and obstruction;
  • diarrhoea; and
  • impairment of nutrient intake, digestion and absorption.

Evidence shows that preventive chemotherapy, or the periodic large-scale administration of anthelminthic medicines to populations at risk, can dramatically reduce the burden of worms caused by soil-transmitted helminth infections.

Preventive chemotherapy is an important part of a comprehensive package to eliminate morbidity due to soil-transmitted helminths in at-risk populations. However, long-term solutions to soil-transmitted helminth infections will need to address many factors, including improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene.

WHO recommendations

Preventive chemotherapy (deworming), using annual or biannuala single-dose albendazole (400 mg) or mebendazole (500 mg)b is recommended as a public health intervention for all young children 12-23 months of age, preschool children 1–4 years of age, and school-age children 5-12 years of age (in some settings up to 14 years of age) living in areas where the baseline prevalence of any soil-transmitted infection is 20% or more among children, in order to reduce the worm burden of soil-transmitted helminth infection.

a Biannual administration is recommended where the baseline prevalence is over 50%.
b A half-dose of albendazole (i.e. 200 mg) is recommended for children younger than 24 months of age.

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Additional information for this recommendation can be found in the guidance summary and in the guideline, under 'WHO documents' below.

This is one of several WHO recommendations on vitamin A supplementation. The full set of recommendations can be found in 'Full set of recommendations'.

WHO documents

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents
Evidence

Evidence


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials