Your guide to deworming your child

Posted on January 29th, 2018

Registered midwife Pippa Hime gives us the lowdown on worms and how to treat and prevent an infestation.

Your guide to deworming your child

Worms are parasites that can live in the human body in the digestive tract. They enter the body as eggs, where they hatch and multiply. Pretty gross, right?

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How can my child pick up worms?

You bath your kids. Keep the house pretty clean. You even make them wash their hands before a meal. So how can your child be at risk for a worm infestation? Parasitic eggs can be found in contaminated food or water. They can be on utensils or surfaces. They can be found in faeces of humans or animals. Traces can be detected on toilet seats or door handles. So unless you are keeping your child in a bubble, he could be at risk. This risk is increased if you have pets, too.

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What are the common symptoms of worms?

Often symptoms can be undetected. More often than not your child will appear well and healthy. For those that do get sick from the infestation, you will notice loose, watery, offensive smelling and frequent stools. Your child may also be bloated with increased gas and abdominal discomfort. Some children experience an increased appetite with no weight gain. Others can have a dip in appetite. There may also be itching around the anus.

How can I prevent worm infestations in my children?

  • The easiest and best form of prevention is hand washing. This should be done after bathroom trips or nappy changes, before eating meals, arriving home after being out and after playing outdoors and with pets.
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables before giving them to your child, and cook all meat products thoroughly.
  • Make sure drinking water is clean and preferably boiled and cooled first.
  • Regularly deworm your family, including all members, caregivers and pets.

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How to deworm your child

A prophylactic treatment can prevent or eliminate worm infestations. Deworming your family every six months is advisable, especially if you have pets and small children. Children can be dewormed from one year of age. Dewormers can be in a liquid form that you give your child every morning for three days. Adults and pets are usually given tablets to take. Chat to your doctor or pharmacist for the best dosage for your child’s age and weight. The medication kills off the adult worms in the digestive system. It does not kill the eggs, so that’s why it is recommended to repeat every six months.