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WHO advises blanket anti-worming treatment for children despite lack of benefit

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4589 (Published 04 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4589
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

The World Health Organization has strongly recommended the mass treatment of hundreds of millions of children to eliminate worm infections, while admitting that evidence does not prove that it will do any good.1

A Cochrane review2 published in 2015 by a team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine found no evidence that eliminating intestinal worms by treating all children in an area where worms were endemic improved the children’s average height, weight, or nutritional status. A Campbell review published in 2016 confirmed these findings.3

The WHO guideline does not dispute that conclusion. The panel responsible reviewed 65 trials in 23 low and middle income countries and said that children treated twice a year with anthelmintic medicines in areas where worms were endemic showed no evidence of weight …

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