Background: The effectiveness of Helicobacter pylori eradication regimens is influenced by antibiotic susceptibility of infecting strains. Data concerning antibiotic resistance in children are limited. We report the evolution of primary and secondary resistance in a series of Belgian children during the last 12 years.
Patients and methods: From 1989 through 2000, H. pylori gastritis was diagnosed in 569 children, and antibiotic susceptibility tests were performed in 555. Eradication, using different schemes, failed in 128 of 457 treated children. After eradication failure antibiotic susceptibility determination was performed in 87 of 128. Comparison of antibiotic susceptibility of strains isolated from the gastric body and from the antrum was performed in 238 samples.
Results: Resistance to amoxicillin was not observed. The rate of primary resistance to nitroimidazole derivatives was 18.0% (101 of 555) and remained constant throughout this period, whereas primary resistance to macrolides increased from an average of 6.0% (range, 0 to 10%) before 1995 to 16.6% (range, 10 to 25%, P < 0.001) thereafter. Antibiotic consumption in Belgium, especially macrolides, did not show important fluctuations during the study period. Secondary resistance developed in 39 of 87 patients (46%). Strains isolated from different gastric locations show identical susceptibility testing in all but 5 of 238.
Conclusions: Resistance of H. pylori to macrolides increased in our pediatric population which did not appear to correlate with macrolides prescription habits in our country. After eradication failure acquired secondary resistance was observed in one-half of the patients.