Background: Helicobacter pylori infection occurs most frequently in impoverished populations; however, little is known about specific determinants of susceptibility. This report describes the relationship between H. pylori infection and nutritional indicators among children from a rural village in the Colombian Andes, where a prevalence of 69% was observed in children from 2 to 9 years old.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study of 684 children, comprising 92% of the 2- to 9-year-old population of Aldana, Colombia, information was obtained on dietary factors by questionnaire, height and weight by direct measurement, and H. pylori status using the carbon-13 urea breath test. Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate relative risks for nutritional indicators.
Results: The infection was least frequent among children who are several servings of fruits and vegetables daily, drank two or more cups of milk daily, and were in the upper quintile of height for their age. The odds of infection increased 19-fold (95% confidence interval, 4.0-91.9) among children who consumed less than two daily servings of fruits and vegetables compared with the modal intake of three to five daily servings. Children whose daily vitamin C intake from fruits and vegetables was less than 40 mg had greatly increased odds of infection (odds ratio, 7.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-34.1) compared to the modal intake of 80-119 mg; for beta-carotene, the odds ratio was 3.1 (95% confidence interval, 1.2-7.9) for intakes of less than 300 IU per day, compared with the modal daily intake of 900 IU or more.
Conclusions: The results of this population-based study suggest that nutritional factors may play a role in determining susceptibility to H. pylori infection.