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Arch Dis Child. 1997 Jul;77(1):46-9.

Helicobacter pylori infection and growth delay in older children.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Hospital, IRCCS, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.


It is thought that Helicobacter pylori infection may influence growth rate in children. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of H pylori infection in healthy Italian children, and to look for differences in height between infected and non-infected subjects. Two hundred and sixteen children, aged 3 to 14 years, were tested for H pylori infection by 13C-urea breath test. Centile values for height were calculated. Composite indices for socioeconomic class and household crowding were also determined. Forty nine of 216 children (22.7%) were H pylori positive. The prevalence of infection increased with age. Eight of 49 H pylori positive children (16.3%) were below the 25th centile for height, compared with 13 of 167 H pylori negative children (7.8%). This difference became significant in children aged 8.5 to 14 years; in this group (n = 127), eight of 31 infected children (25.8%) were below the 25th centile for height, compared with eight of 96 non-infected children (8.3%). A significant correlation was found between socioeconomic conditions, household crowding, and H pylori status. By using stepwise logistic regression, only the centile value for height was significantly related to H pylori status in older children. Thus H pylori infection was associated with growth delay in older children, poor socioeconomic conditions, and household overcrowding. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that H pylori infection is one of the environmental factors capable of affecting growth.

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