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 more than 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 deworming. 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