Treatment of Trichuris Trichiura Infections Improves Growth, Spelling Scores and School Attendance in Some Children.
The effects of treating Trichuris trichiura infections were investigated in 407 Jamaican children age 6 to 12 years. The children were randomly assigned to receive treatment (albendazole) or a placebo. The outcome variables included growth, tests of reading, spelling and arithmetic, and school attendance. After 6 months of treatment, there was no significant main effect on any of the outcomes. However, there were significant treatment-by-infection intensity interactions with spelling (P < 0.05) and body mass index (P < 0.01), and a significant treatment-by-stunting interaction with school attendance (P < 0.01). In spelling, the children with heavy infections showed improvements with treatment that approached significance (P = 0.06), whereas those with lower intensities did not. However, the children with lower infection intensities had increased body mass index with treatment (P = 0.02), although there was no difference in children with heavy infections. In school attendance, the stunted children improved with treatment (P < 0.04), whereas there was no difference in the nonstunted children. These findings suggest that in the sample of Jamaican children examined, the treatment of T. trichiura was more likely to benefit school performance in children of poor nutritional status and those with heavy infections, and to improve weight gain in children with lighter infection intensities.