In Southeast Asia, the large majority of the population remains affected by parasitic worms despite longstanding mass treatment and health education campaigns. Soil-transmitted helminths and also the fish-borne liver fluke negatively affect development during early childhood. Here, the prevalence of helminth infections in stool samples of 610 mother-child pairs from Khammouane, Bolikhamxay and Vientiane provinces in Lao People's Democratic Republic was determined by formalin-ethyl acetate concentration technique. Overall, 15.1% of the children and 46.9% of the mothers were positive for at least one helminth species. Helminth detection rates varied significantly by province with the highest prevelance in Khammouane and the lowest in Bolikhamxay province. Mothers that were positive for soil-transmitted helminths were significantly more likely to have children positive for the same helminth species (p < 0.01) but this was not the case for the liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini. A protective effect of breastfeeding against soil-transmitted helminths was revealed. Our data reconfirm the generally high helminth burden among mother-child pairs who likely share a number of risky lifestyle behaviors also with other family members. To reduce maternal burden of helminths, we propose that anti-helmintic treatment of women of childbearing age and of mothers during postnatal care should be included in the national strategy.
- Liver fluke
- Opisthorchis viverrini