Helicobacter pylori: a poor man's gut pathogen?

Gut Pathog. 2010 Mar 31;2(1):2. doi: 10.1186/1757-4749-2-2.


Helicobacter pylori is one of the human pathogens with highest prevalence around the world; yet, its principal mode of transmission remains largely unknown. The role of H. pylori in gastric disease and cancer has not been established until the end of the 20th century. Since then, its epidemiology has been extensively studied, and an accruing body of literature suggests that not all humans are equally at risk of infection by this gut pathogen. Here, we briefly review the different epidemiological aspects of H. pylori infection with emphasis on those factors related to human poverty. The epidemiology of H. pylori infection is characterized by marked differences between developing and developed countries, notably among children. In addition, congruent lines of evidence point out to socioeconomic factors and living standards as main determinants of the age-dependent acquisition rate of H. pylori, and consequently its prevalence. These data are alarming in the light of the changing global climate and birth rate, which are expected to change the demography of our planet, putting more children at risk of H. pylori and its complications for years to come.