Background: Asthma, a serious health problem worldwide, is becoming more common. Colonization with Helicobacter pylori, a major human indigenous (commensal) microbe, during early life may be relevant to the risk of childhood asthma.
Methods: We conducted cross-sectional analyses, using data from 7412 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000, to assess the association between H. pylori and childhood asthma.
Results: H. pylori seropositivity was inversely associated with onset of asthma before 5 years of age and current asthma in children aged 3-13 years. Among participants 3-19 years of age, the presence of H. pylori was inversely related to ever having had asthma (odds ratio [OR], 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45-1.06), and the inverse association with onset of asthma before 5 years of age was stronger (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.38-0.88). Among participants 3-13 years of age, H. pylori positivity was significantly inversely associated with current asthma (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.24-0.69). H. pylori seropositivity also was inversely related to recent wheezing, allergic rhinitis, and dermatitis, eczema, or rash.
Conclusions: This study is the first to report an inverse association between H. pylori seropositivity and asthma in children. The findings indicate new directions for research and asthma prevention.