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Am J Epidemiol. 1999 Aug 1;150(3):225-30.

Age distribution of Helicobacter pylori seroprevalence among young children in a United States/Mexico border community: evidence for transitory infection.

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  • 1University of Texas-El Paso, Department of Biological Sciences, 79968, USA.


Helicobacter pylori infection has been linked to a spectrum of gastroduodenal diseases of broad public health impact, yet the natural history of this frequently asymptomatic infection remains poorly understood. Evidence suggests that initial acquisition occurs primarily during childhood and may persist throughout life. The seroprevalence of H. pylori antibodies was examined in 365 primary schoolchildren aged 4-7 years in a low-income United States/Mexico border community from January to May 1996. Overall, 21% of the 365 children tested positive, with a significant monotonic decrease in seroprevalence by 1-year age intervals (36% in children aged 4 years, 24% in those aged 5 years, 20% in those aged 6 years, and 14% in those aged 7 years). The odds ratio for each 1-year age increase was 0.76 (95% confidence interval: 0.6, 1.0) after adjustment for relevant covariates. Given that H. pylori antibodies diminish after infection clears, this trend suggests that transient infection may be common in young children. In contrast, hepatitis A virus seroprevalence increased with age. There was a moderate association (odds ratio = 1.47, 95% confidence interval: 0.8, 2.9) of H. pylori with hepatitis A virus seroprevalence that weakened after adjustment for age and socioeconomic status (odds ratio = 1.26, 95% confidence interval: 0.6, 2.5). Follow-up studies are needed to clarify the natural history of Helicobacter pylori infection and identify predictors of initial acquisition, persistence, and recurrence.

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