Increasing prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection with age: continuous risk of infection in adults rather than cohort effect

J Infect Dis. 1994 Feb;169(2):434-7. doi: 10.1093/infdis/169.2.434.


It remains unclear whether acquisition of Helicobacter pylori is due to a continuous risk of acquiring the infection or a cohort effect. In this prospective 3-year cohort study, the seroprevalence, conversion, and reversion of H. pylori infection as determined by IgG antibodies was examined. The cohort consisted of 316 randomly selected, nonpatient subjects aged 18-72 years who each provided at least 2 suitable samples. Seroprevalence of H. pylori increased from 21% in the third decade to 50% in the eighth decade. Crude annual seroconversion rate was 1% and the "spontaneous" seroreversion rate was 1.6%. Age was the only identified risk factor for H. pylori infection. A continuous risk of acquisition of 1%/year rather than a cohort effect best explains the pattern of H. pylori infection in this Canadian population. Seroconversion continues in adult life, and spontaneous reversions do occur, especially in the later decades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nova Scotia
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Bacterial