Objectives To study the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H-P) infection in malnourished children and to prove the association—if any—between H-P infection and protein losing enteropathy (PLE) in these children.
Methods Stool samples of 100 studied children (40 underweight children, 40 marasmic children and 20 age- and sex-matched, well nourished children as a control group) were tested for H-P antigen and feacal concentration of alpha 1-antitrypsin (FA-AT) using ELISA technique. Estimation of both parameters was repeated in H-P positive children 6 weeks after eradication therapy of H-P infection.
Results The prevalence of H-P infection was detected in 66% of malnourished children compared to 20% of control group. Malnourished children (either H-P positive or negative) had significantly higher FA-AT when compared to control group (P = 0.0001). The mean values of FA-AT were significantly higher in malnourished H-P positive children than in those with negative infection (P⩽0.0001), and after eradication of H-P infection, the mean values of FA-AT showed a significant decrease (P⩽0.0001). However, these values were still higher than in control group (P⩽0.0001).
Conclusions H-P infection has a high prevalence in malnourished children and may be an important co-factor in the etiology of some aspects of protein energy malnutrition and has a leading role in the pathogenesis of PLE.