The effect of intervention methods on nutritional status and cognitive function of primary school children infected with Ascaris lumbricoides.
Author(s): Hadidjaja P, Bonang E, Suyardi MA, Abidin SA, Ismid IS, Margono SS
Affiliation(s): Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Jakarta.
Publication date & source: 1998-11, Am J Trop Med Hyg., 59(5):791-5.
Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial
The prevalence rate of ascariasis in primary school children in northern Jakarta, Indonesia varies from 60% to 90%. An association between helminthic infection and educational achievement has long been recognized. This study was carried out in the northern part of Jakarta among primary school children 6-8 years of age. Treatment of ascariasis and health education were used as the interventions. Before the interventions, basic data on socioeconomic status, epidemiology, infection with Ascaris lumbricoides, nutritional status, and cognitive function were collected. After the interventions, only data on infection with A. lumbricoides, nutritional status, and cognitive function were collected. The children were divided into five groups. Group I was given an anthelminthic (mebendazole), group II was provided with health education, group III was given an antihelminthic and provided with health education, group IV was given a placebo (controls), and group V consisted of egg-negative children, who also served as controls. Data from 336 students were analyzed by analysis of covariance. Parasitologic examinations showed a mean prevalence rate of 58.4% for A. lumbricoides infection in the pre-intervention children and a mean prevalence rate of 40.6% in the post-intervention children. Concerning nutritional status, approximately 80% of the children showed good scores in the pre- and post-treatment data, and only a small percentage (0.9-16.2%) showed mild or moderate malnutrition. No significant difference was found between the pre- and post-treatment nutritional status. The results of the cognitive test showed that the group treated with mebendazole showed significant improvement in the Colored Progressive Matrices and Coding test. Children also showed an improvement in their learning ability, concentration, and eye-hand coordination after five months of receiving this intervention.