The Effects of Deworming on Indicators of School Performance in Guatemala
Intestinal helminths are among the most common infections in school-age children. Of 246 children, aged 7-12 years, attending school in rural Guatemala, 91% carried Ascaris lumbricoides and 82% carried Trichuris trichiura.These children were randomly assigned to receive either albendazole or placebo at 0 and 12 weeks in a 'double-blind' study of the effects of deworming on indicators of school performance. Albendazole successfully rid the children of Ascaris but it was less effective against Trichuris. The children's performance in tests of reading and vocabulary were measured at 0 and 24 weeks, the Peabody picture vocabulary test was given at 24 weeks, and attendance was measured throughout the school year.Comparison of the treated and placebo groups showed no positive effect of deworming. The treated children were largely free of Ascaris for at least 6 months, but during that period we could not detect any improvement in reading, vocabulary, or attendance. The effects of being Trichuris-free were not examined because of the limited effectiveness of albendazole against this worm at the dosage used.