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Minerva Pediatrica 2000 January-February;52(1-2):29-46

language: Italian

Helicobacter pylori infection in paediatrics. Present knowledge and practical approaches

Pellicano R.


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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is acquired in childhood, earlier in developing countries, as a consequence the prevalence of infection is higher in developing countries (70%) than in developed countries (5-15%). H. pylori infection spreads from person-to-person, however the precise mode of transmission (oral-oral, fecal-oral or gastro-oral routes) is as yet, not known. Diagnosis of H. pylori infection can be performed with both invasive endoscopic-based tests, or non-invasive tests, mainly by measurement of IgG antibodies against the bacterium in serum samples or by measurement of 13CO2 in expired air (13C-urea breath test). In clinical practice endoscopy and biopsy is recommended before treatment to determine the presence and the degree of gastritis or ulcer. However, endoscopy is a complicated procedure in children and diagnosis of infection can be based on a non-invasive test. The association of H. pylori infection with recurrent abdominal pain seems evident in a subgroup of children with endoscopic features of gastritis, ulcer or haemorrage. There is an increasing interest in the extraintestinal manifestations of H. pylori infection in children, i.e. iron-deficiency anemia, growth retardation and migraine, but this domain remains controversial. Since infection at a young age is believed to result in chronic atrophic gastritis and gastric cancer in adult life, it is logical to consider a future massive programme of eradication and immunization. Regimens suggested for H. pylori eradication are a combination of inhibitors of gastric acid secretion plus two antibiotics for 7-10 days.

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