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Worms and their effects on human development

We keep on avoiding this topic, hopefully am not spoiling your day/breakfast or whatever. This information was given to us during the Health Update – Manila last time at UP Manila. We really need to learn everything to be able to take care of our health, specially with our children.

There are 3 main soil transmitted helminths that are endemic in the Philippines. These are Trichuris, Ascaris, and hookworms. A national prevalance study commissioned by the World Health Organization and performed by Dr Lydia Leonardo of the Deparment of Parasitology showed that the prevalence in the country varies widely for each worm.

The most frequently encounted worms is Trichuris. 6 out of 39 provinces surveyed more than half of the population had this worm. In 3 of these provinces, 7 to 8 out of 10 individuals would have Trichuris. In 3 out of 39 provinces, more than half of the population had Ascaris. In 1 out of 39 provinces, hookworm was found in half of the population.

Most of the infections are in children. The number of worms that can infect a child can vary. Moderate to heavy infections can result in poor absorption of nutrients, blood loss and poor utilization of iron. This can lead to malnutrition and anemia, which in turn can lead to poor performance in school work, physical fitness and poor growth.