Clustering of Helicobacter pylori infection in couples: differences between high- and low-prevalence population groups

Ann Epidemiol. 2006 Jul;16(7):516-20. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2005.09.009. Epub 2006 Jan 4.


Purpose: Several mostly small-scale studies reported clustering of Helicobacter pylori infections as a possible indicator of conjugal transmission, but results have been inconsistent. We assessed clustering of H pylori infections in a large community-based study from Germany that included both high-prevalence and low-prevalence population subgroups.

Methods: Current H pylori infection was determined among 670 couples by means of carbon-13-urea breath test ((13)C-UBT) breath test and a monoclonal antigen immunoassay for H pylori in stool.

Results: Prevalences of infection among women were 34.9% (51 of 146 women) if the partner was infected and 14.5% (76 of 524 women) if the partner was not infected. Stratification by nationality showed a strong association of infection for partners with other than German nationality (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 6.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.31-17.96), for whom prevalence of infection was greater than 50%, whereas no association was seen for German partners born in Germany (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.47-2.61), for whom infection prevalence was approximately 10% (p for interaction = 0.048).

Conclusions: Conjugal transmission of infection caused by H pylori is unlikely to be of relevance in low-prevalence population groups. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis of a potential role of conjugal transmission of H pylori infection in high-prevalence population groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / transmission
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouses*
  • Time Factors