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Clin Exp Allergy. 2011 Oct;41(10):1422-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2011.03831.x. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Effects of Helicobacter pylori, geohelminth infection and selected commensal bacteria on the risk of allergic disease and sensitization in 3-year-old Ethiopian children.

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1
School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. alamwo1@yahoo.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epidemiological studies have suggested that gastro-intestinal infections including Helicobacter pylori, intestinal microflora (commensal bacteria) and geohelminths may influence the risk of asthma and allergy but data from early life are lacking.

OBJECTIVE:

We aimed to determine the independent effects of these infections on allergic disease symptoms and sensitization in an Ethiopian birth cohort.

METHODS:

In 2008/09, 878 children (87% of the 1006 original singletons in a population-based birth cohort) were followed up at age 3 and interview data obtained on allergic symptoms and potential confounders. Allergen skin tests to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and cockroach were performed, levels of Der p 1 and Bla g 1 in the child's bedding measured and stool samples analysed for geohelminths and, in a random subsample, enterococci, lactobacilli, bifidobacteria and H. pylori antigen. The independent effects of each exposure on wheeze, eczema, hayfever and sensitization were determined using multiple logistic regression.

RESULTS:

Children were commonly infected with H. pylori (41%; 253/616), enterococci (38.1%; 207/544), lactobacilli (31.1%; 169/544) and bifidobacteria (18.9%; 103/544) whereas geohelminths were only found in 8.5% (75/866). H. pylori infection was associated with a borderline significant reduced risk of eczema (adjusted OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.24-1.01, P=0.05) and D. pteronyssinus sensitization (adjusted OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.17-1.08, P=0.07). Geohelminths and intestinal microflora were not significantly associated with any of the outcomes measured.

CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

Among young children in a developing country, we found evidence to support the hypothesis of a protective effect of H. pylori infection on the risk of allergic disease. Further investigation of the mechanism of this effect is therefore of potential therapeutic and preventive value.

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