Background: Studies in adult populations in selected countries with widely varying rates of gastric cancer have shown a weak correlation between gastric cancer mortality rates and the prevalence of CagA+ strains of H. pylori. However, only limited data are available in ethnically homogenous populations with varying rates in the same region. METHODS; We compared the prevalence of H. pylori in general and of CagA+ strains in particular among children in Shandong Province, China in areas at high (Linqu County) and low risk (Cangshan County) of gastric cancer. H. pylori status among children aged 3 to 12 years was determined by 13C-UBT, and CagA status was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Because of the difficulty in obtaining blood from young children aged 3 to 4 years and from some children aged 5 years, CagA status was determined among part of children 5 years old and children 6 to 12 years old. RESULTS; Among 98 children aged 3 to 12 years in Linqu, 68 (69.4%) was H. pylori-positive, as compared with 29 (28.7%) among 101 children in Cangshan. Among children positive for 13C-UBT, the proportion of the CagA+ strains were identified was 46 (88.5%) of 52 in Linqu and 13 (81.3%) of 16 in Cangshan, respectively.
Conclusions: The prevalence of H. pylori was nearly three times higher among children in Linqu than in Cangshan, which may contribute to the large differential in gastric cancer rates for two neighboring populations in Shandong Province.