Objectives: Mortality data of peptic ulcer are mostly national and limited to the 20th century. The New York City data from 1804 have therefore been examined by both year of death and year of birth (cohort analysis), to consider whether the increases and subsequent decreases in deaths from gastric, followed by duodenal ulcer, can be attributed to Helicobacter pylori.
Methods: The annual mortality reports of New York City described gastric ulcer from 1838 and duodenal ulcer from 1931. The age-specific death rates per 100,000 population were calculated in 10-yr periods both by year of death and by year of birth for each disease according to age and sex.
Results: For gastric ulcer the period-of-death-age contours from the 1850s to the 1990s showed an increase to a mid-19th century plateau, but the cohort-age contours revealed a peak mortality for those born in the 1870s. Women born between about 1770 and 1880 showed a faster increase in mortality. For duodenal ulcer the period of birth contours showed a decline from a peak for those born in the 1880s and 1890s, with no sex difference.
Conclusions: This urban study with data regarding deaths from gastric ulcer registered from 1838 and in those born from the 1770s, revealed by cohort analysis a peak in the 1870s, and for duodenal ulcer in the 1880s, comparable to national data worldwide. These time changes in fatalities are compatible with a change in the environment of children born in these decades, as, for example infection by a pathogenic strain of H. pylori.