Parasitic worms have largely been overlooked by medicine, but attitudes are changing with the realisation that they can seriously affect child development and that treatment is easy and cheap, say Shally Awasthi, D A P Bundy, and Lorenzo Savioli
Parasitic worms do not usually interest doctors because, although worms can cause severe clinical disease, they usually have insidious effects on growth and development that rarely cause attendance at health centres. Yet it is precisely these chronic effects, affecting more than two billion people with lifelong infections, that have forced the public health community to reassess the importance of these infections. And recognition of the simplicity, safety, low cost, and efficacy of treatment has now resulted in major global initiatives to achieve control.
Information for this review came from Medline and hand searches of published literature, correspondence with experts in the subject, and the personal experiences of the authors.
Given the prevalence of high intensity infection in schoolchildren, it is particularly worrying that these infections can adversely affect cognition and educational achievement.w19 The mechanism by which mental processes are affected is uncertain, but evidence suggests that the mechanism is indirect,