Ask the doctor

Does playing in sand cause Worm Infections?

Does playing in the sand cause worm-induced infections in children? As summer months are very short here in Germany, it is very difficult to prevent children from playing in sand. When I visit India, I avoid it, but here, there are many play areas with sand pits. I believe sand play is good for children but I’m worried about germs. What precautions should I take?—  Jayasurya Ajith on e-mail

Playing in the sand involves some risk of children being exposed to worms’ eggs and therefore, worm infestation and parasite contamination. An effective way to prevent worm infestation is to insist on thorough washing of hands and feet by children after sand play. It is also important to keep a watchful eye on toddlers to prevent them from eating sand.

My son’s school starts by 8 a.m and he leaves home by 7 a.m. Mornings are a mad rush and he refuses to eat any breakfast. I give him milk with Bournvita shortly after he wakes up but he eats nothing else. Though I ensure that he eats a good lunch and dinner, I am worried about his skipping breakfast. Please advise. — Nilanjana Rohit, Calicut

Several studies have shown that a healthy breakfast increases calcium and fibre intake, resulting in healthier weight gain trends. There is also evidence which indicates that a good breakfast results in improved memory, better academic performance, and school attendance. In short, there is considerable evidence to renew your efforts to push your child to eat a well-balanced breakfast. Be firm and insist on his developing the habit of eating the morning meal.

Children don’t like to be hurried after being woken up and rushed through the morning school routine. Therefore, ensure your son goes to bed early and gets a restful nine hours of sleep, rises early and has enough time to eat a leisurely breakfast.


My daughter has to braid her hair for school. Since there isn’t enough time to dry a hair wash before school, on several occasions I have had to braid her wet hair. Will this affect her scalp? Will she get dandruff? — Gayathri Satish, Chennai

Washing children’s hair frequently with a mild shampoo is a good way of keeping it clean. However, it is beneficial to keep the scalp dry. An alternative is to wash her hair the previous evening so that it is well dried before sleep and she can go to school with dry hair. Dandruff has other causes.

(Dr. Nisha Miriam George is a paediatric consultant at Sundaram Medical Foundation and Dr. Rangarajan Memorial Hospital, Chennai)