Objectives: To determine the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in healthy Malaysian children and to discover whether differences exist among children of different races.
Methods: Serum samples from asymptomatic children tested for H. pylori seropositivity using an ELISA test.
Results: Five hundred and fourteen healthy urban Malaysian children aged 0.5 to 17 (mean 5.9) years from three different racial groups had their blood tested for H. pylori antibodies. The overall prevalence was 10.3%. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of infection between boys and girls, but a significant rise was noted with increasing age (P = 0.009). Seropositivity was most common in the Indians and lowest in the Malays (P = 0.001). Father's level of education did not affect the child's rate of H. pylori seropositivity.
Conclusion: The prevalence of H. pylori seropositivity among asymptomatic urban Malaysian children is lowest in Malays. Intermediate in Chinese and highest in Indians. The racial differences found in children are consistent with those found in Malaysian adults.