Methodology: We analyzed individual participant-level data from 16 studies (13 single-arm or cohort studies and three randomized trials), amounting to 683 preschool-age children (aged <6 years)and 2,010 school-age children (aged 6–14 years). Children had a documented Schistosomamansoni or S. haematobium infection, were treated with single 40 mg/kg oral praziquantel,and assessed between 21 and 60 days post-treatment. Efficacy was expressed as arithmetic mean and individual egg reduction rate (ERR) and meta-analyzed using general linear models and mixed models. Safety was summarized using reported adverse events(AEs).
Principal findings: Preschool-age children had significantly lower baseline Schistosoma egg counts and more losses to follow-up compared to school-age children. No difference in efficacy was found between preschool- and school-age children using a general linear model of individual-participant ERR with baseline log-transformed egg count as covariate and study, age, and sexas fixed variables, and a mixed model with a random effect on the study. Safety was reported in only four studies (n = 1,128 individuals); few AEs were reported in preschool-age children 4 and 24 hours post-treatment as well as at follow-up. Three severe but not serious AEs were recorded in school-age children during follow-up.
Conclusions/significance: There is no indication that single-dose 40 mg/kg oral praziquantel would be less efficacious and less safe in preschool-age children compared to school-age children, with the caveat that only few randomized comparisons exist between the two age groups. Preventive chemotherapy might therefore be extended to preschool-age children, with proper monitoring of its efficacy and safety.