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  1. M STEPHEN MURPHY, Associate Editor

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    The discovery thatHelicobacter pylori is the prime cause of peptic ulcer disease, is one of the most important advances in medicine in the 20th century. Subsequently, its importance in the causation of gastric cancer has been recognised. It is a rare cause of gastric lymphoma. Despite its significance as a pathogen, this organism colonises the gastric mucosa in up to 50 percent of the world's population. Not surprisingly research interest is intense. There has been much speculation (though little proof) that it might have a role in various other gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal disorders, including failure-to-thrive in infancy, short stature, anaemia, and even cardiovascular disease. Now a link has been proposed between H pylori and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Recently, Kerr et alexamined gastric, tracheal, and pulmonary tissue, looking for evidence of H pylori in SIDS victims and controls.1 Based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, they reported a highly significant association between SIDS and the presence of two H pylori genes (UreC, cagA) in these tissues. Not surprisingly, this reported association has evoked a lively correspondence. Important questions have been raised regarding both methodology and interpretation.

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