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Preschool Deworming: Impacts on Child Health and Education

Health & Psychology India

Nearly 40% of children in Africa and Asia suffer from iron deficiency anemia (IDA), which can result in weakness, stunted physical growth, and a compromised immune system. Intestinal helminths (worms) cause chronic intestinal blood loss which contributes to iron deficiency anemia. In urban Delhi, over 69% of preschool aged children are anemic and 30% suffer from intestinal worms, contributing to the high prevalence of malnutrition. This study evaluated the impact of the NGO Pratham’s preschool nutrition and health project in the slums of Delhi, India. The program delivered a package consisting of iron and Vitamin A supplementation and deworming drugs to children 2-6 years old through an existing preschool network. Two hundred preschools with a total of 2,392 children were randomly divided into three treatment groups, and the deworming drugs were taken at “health camps” held at preschools approximately every three months. Results found large gains in child weight—roughly 0.5 kg on average—among treatment schools and sharp increases of preschool participation rates by 5.8 percentage points, reducing preschool absenteeism by roughly one fifth. The results of this study largely confirm the Kenya Primary School Deworming Project findings that child health gains translate into higher school participation and supported the scale up Deworm the World to India.

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