A comprehensive review of the natural history of Helicobacter pylori infection in children

Arch Med Res. 2000 Sep-Oct;31(5):431-69. doi: 10.1016/s0188-4409(00)00099-0.


Across populations of children, Helicobacter pylori prevalence ranges from under 10% to over 80%. Low prevalence occurs in the U.S., Canada, and northern and western Europe; high prevalence occurs in India, Africa, Latin America, and eastern Europe. Risk factors include socioeconomic status, household crowding, ethnicity, migration from high prevalence regions, and infection status of family members. H. pylori infection is not associated with specific symptoms in children; however, it is consistently associated with antral gastritis, although its clinical significance is unclear. Duodenal ulcers associated with H. pylori are seldom seen in children under 10 years of age. H. pylori-infected children demonstrate a chronic, macrophagic, and monocytic inflammatory cell infiltrate and a lack of neutrophils, as compared with the response observed in adults. The effect of H. pylori infection on acid secretion in children remains poorly defined. The events that occur during H. pylori colonization in children should be studied more thoroughly and should include urease activity, motility, chemotaxis, adherence, and downregulation of the host response. The importance of virulence determinants described as relevant for disease during H. pylori infection has not been extensively studied in children. Highly sensitive and specific methods for the detection of H. pylori in children are needed, especially in younger pediatric populations in which colonization is in its early phases. Criteria for the use of eradication treatment in H. pylori-infected children need to be established. Multicenter pediatric studies should focus on the identification of risk factors, which can be used as prognostic indicators for the development of gastroduodenal disease later in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Helicobacter Infections* / diagnosis
  • Helicobacter Infections* / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections* / pathology
  • Helicobacter Infections* / therapy
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans