Thu Oct 24,2002 5:31 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Scientists in Turkey say that parasites should be considered as a possible cause of bad breath in children.
According to the report, the researchers decided to investigate the relationship between parasites and bad breath when a mother told them that the bad breath of her child, who was infested with pinworm, a common parasite, disappeared after antiparasitic treatment with the drug mebendazole.
“We became suspicious that halitosis (bad breath) might be a consequence of parasitic infection and decided to see if a randomized trial with mebendazole could influence recovery from halitosis,” write Dr. Bahri Ermis and colleagues from Karaelmas University in Zonguldak, Turkey.
To investigate, the researchers gave 82 youngsters mebendazole and another group of 80 children an inactive placebo. All of the kids’ parents had complained that their child had chronic bad breath.
Stool samples collected from the children were tested for the presence of parasites, such as pinworm, at the start and end of the study period, according to the report published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Of the children found to have parasites in their stool samples, 18 of 28 who were treated with mebendazole “recovered from halitosis,” compared with 2 of 24 kids with parasites that received a placebo, the report indicates.
“Among those who did not have stool parasites, 14 of 52 improved with mebendazole compared with 10 of 48 taking placebo,” Ermis and colleagues write.
“Mebendazole intake made a significant difference (in breath odor) whether or not the children had parasites,” they add.
The investigators conclude that parasitosis should be considered as a possible cause of bad breath in children.
Pinworm is the most common parasitic worm infection in the US, according to the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. In some groups of school-age children and preschoolers, up to half carry the parasite, according to the agency.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2002;156:995-998.