Who wants to think of the possibility that their child has a parasite problem? But it is often a problem for adopted children, particularly internationally adopted children. Overcrowded orphanages, poor hygiene and poor diet can contribute to the likelihood of a parasite infection.
Testing & Treatment
Once home, your child’s doctor should do the recommended testing for parasites. However it is not always that easy. I remember our oldest adopted daughter absolutely refusing to do the stool test at nine years old. The most current recommendations I have see are for three rounds of stool tests. Signs and symptoms of parasite infestation are often general and vague, making it harder to recognize the connection to the possibility of parasites. Vague abdominal signs could be attributed to any number of things such as new and unfamiliar foods, allergies, etc.
Two of my biological children have had parasite treatment through our functional medical doctor after Lyme disease caused them to have greatly lowered immune systems. Even in the U.S., people with impaired immune systems are more susceptible to parasites. Many people do a parasite detox or cleanse once or twice per year. There are many options available over the counter, but I highly recommend requesting the CDC recommended parasite testing for internationally adopted children through your doctor if not already done and following the doctor’s recommendations for treating any positive findings of parasites.
Tips for Parasite Prevention
As I have learned more about the prevalence of parasites and just how commonplace they are, I now understand that parasites are very opportunistic and can rapidly gain a foothold when there is a lowered immune system. Therefore, keeping the immune system strong and healthy is key to keeping parasite infections from causing trouble.
Many, many things can lower the immune system’s defenses, even temporarily, giving any present parasites an opportunity to spread. Illness, stress (as with bringing a new person into the family or moving into a new family), even vacations!
Good hygiene is imperative. To teach and enforce good hygiene from the get-go is an important step that I am sure you are already aware of. Hand washing; Not sharing of utensils, hair brushes, toothbrushes, drinks; etc. Some of the things a younger child would normally have already learned may need to be taught your older adopted child, plus they may need to “un-learn” some habits and practices. (Nail biting and thumb sucking are difficult to curb!) Mouthing objects like a much younger child can introduce unwanted “germs” (viruses, bacteria, and parasites).
It is worth it to spend the time to focus and really train good hygiene practices early on, as all through life a healthy immune system is going to be a good foundation for health and prevention of not only parasites but other health maladies.
In addition, though your child may not show any definitive symptoms of parasites, they could be present and easily spread to the rest of the family. We know when traveling to a foreign country where parasites are rampant, the local folks may not show symptoms but travelers are often advised not to drink the water or eat any uncooked vegetables. Those who do are often hold up with some painful symptoms, unable to enjoy the remainder of their trip due to an acute parasite infection. So it’s worth it to zero in on good hygiene practices for the whole family (Hey, we can all use a reminder sometimes).
Be aware also that there are gentler household products that clean as well or better than some of the commonly available products with harsh ingredients. Some of the common ingredients can not only aggravate pre-existing conditions (our youngest adopted child had persistent respiratory problems and severely dry skin), but can sometimes do further damage to an already lowered immune system. We avoid the now common hand sanitizers and either use good old fashioned hand washing with soap and water, or the waterless hand purifier available through Oils for Orphans that does not strip away the skin’s natural protectants.
Good nutrition is certainly a great way to boost their immune systems and help them get over some of the issues they may have upon coming home. Of course with picky eaters it may not be as easy as it seems. And then the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) may be better than what they had if it was severely restricted, but yet not optimal. If malnourished (and with possible parasites) even the food that they are eating may not be being utilized well in the body. You may ask your doctor about supplements and look into getting the most bang for the bite by offering nutrient dense foods more often and tweaking some of your recipes to include them. Just google “nutrient dense foods list” from which to make your own list of foods to try. Just because your kid won’t eat liver doesn’t mean there isn’t something else that may become a favorite.
A transition diet may even be in order if they need healing time for gut health to improve. Your doctor or dietician can give more help, but these are things to consider and perhaps ask about. Being careful not to introduce harmful pesticides through serving mostly organic produce that is thoroughly washed is important, as is helping them flush out toxins that may have accumulated plus those they are continuing to accumulate. A high antioxidant diet can be beneficial and can boost the elimination process. One of the ways parasites do damage is from the toxins they secrete in the human body, and eliminating these (as well as the parasites when they die) is paramount.
While you are working on getting your child to eat healthy, a good multivitamin or at least a B-complex vitamin and/or multivitamin can give them a good boost, supplementing what they get in their food, and sometimes can be easier for the body to metabolize. An enzyme supplement can help their bodies to break down their food more effectively as well as a good quality probiotic.
Oils for Orphans has a range of healthy supplements without unnecessary fillers and with proven ingredients from high quality sources. Kids like our super-food high antioxidant drink supplement, Ningxia Red with micronutrients. With Ningxia Red you may want to begin with a half-ounce or quarter-ounce and work up to a recommended one ounce daily serving (two ounces for adults).
Wherever you get your supplements, it may be a good idea to run them by your health practitioner if you are unsure. If medical treatment of parasites is necessary, it may be unpleasant, but very worth it for healthy digestion and ability to break down and use the nourishment available in the diet.
If you are interested in any of our children’s supplements or other products contact me and I will be happy to help you. You can browse the Oils for Orphans website at http://www.oilsfororphans.com