Helicobacter pylori: evidence for spouse-to-spouse transmission

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1999 Jun;14(6):519-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1746.1999.01908.x.


Background: Spouse-to-spouse transmission of Helicobacter pylori infection still remains controversial.

Methods: We studied the prevalence of H. pylori infection among spouses of H. pylori-positive or -negative individuals and looked for intraspousal transmission. Twenty-five couples were studied. Initially, one individual per couple was selected as the index subject. Spouses of these H. pylori-positive or -negative index individuals underwent screening for H. pylori by serology, the rapid urease test and histology. Those couples in whom only one spouse was positive were followed up and H. pylori status was re-evaluated using the above tests after approximately 1 year in the H. pylori-negative spouse.

Results: Of 25 randomly selected index subjects, 18 were H. pylori positive and seven were negative. There was no significant difference in age, sex, socioeconomic status, presence of dyspeptic symptoms, duration of marriage and number of children in these index subjects. Spouses of H. pylori-infected index subjects had a significantly higher prevalence of H. pylori infection than the spouses of H. pylori-negative index subjects (83.3 vs 28.5%; P < 0.01). Age, sex, socioeconomic status, dyspeptic symptoms, duration of marriage and number of children were not different in H. pylori-positive or -negative spouses of H. pylori-positive index subjects. There were five such couples in whom only one spouse was H. pylori positive initially. At follow up, three of these H. pylori-negative spouses became positive. These findings suggest person-to-person transmission or common source exposure within couples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / transmission*
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parity
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Spouses*