Infection with Helicobacter pylori (formerly Campylobacter pylori) was studied by measuring antibody titres to H pylori in Gambian children. Serological evidence of infection was found in 12 of 82 (15%) infants aged less than 20 months; this increased to 62 of 135 (46%) in those aged 40-60 months. Positive serology was found in 41 of 77 (53%) infants with chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition (mean age 19 months, range 5-36) compared with 18 of 70 (26%) of age matched healthy controls and nearly a quarter (12/49, 24%) of age matched undernourished (marasmic) subjects. These data show that infection with H pylori is common in the Gambia and that in infancy this infection is associated with chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition.
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