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BMJ. Mar 19, 1994; 308(6931): 750–753.
PMCID: PMC2539652

Relation between infection with Helicobacter pylori and living conditions in childhood: evidence for person to person transmission in early life.


OBJECTIVES--To relate the prevalence of infection with Helicobacter pylori in adults to their living conditions in childhood to identify risk factors for infection. DESIGN--Prevalence study of IgG antibodies to H pylori (> 10 micrograms IgG/ml, determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)) and reported living conditions and other socioeconomic factors in childhood. SETTING--Three factories in Stoke on Trent. SUBJECTS--471 male volunteers aged 18 to 65 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Seroprevalence and variables in childhood. RESULTS--Seroprevalence of H pylori increased with age (22/74 (29.7%) at < 30 years v 29/46 (63%) at 55-65 years; P < 0.001 for trend) and was related to manual occupation (14/65 (21.5%) for non-manual v 162/406 (39.9%) for manual; P = 0.003). After data were adjusted for age and occupation subjects from large families, whose childhood homes were crowded or who regularly shared a bed in childhood, were significantly more likely to be seropositive (adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) 2.15 (1.41 to 3.30) for crowding and 2.13 (1.38 to 3.30) for sharing a bed), but there was no relation with possession of a bathroom, inside toilet, refrigerator, or household pets in childhood. CONCLUSIONS--Close person to person contact in childhood is an important determinant of seroprevalence of H pylori in adulthood, suggesting that the infection is transmitted directly from one person to another and may be commonly acquired in early life.

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Selected References

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