Objective. To determine the role of Helicobacter pylori infection in children with recurrent abdominal pain and the usefulness of serologic tests in screening H pylori infection and monitoring treatment of H pylori-associated gastritis.
Methods. During a 3 year period, we investigated the presence of serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody to H pylori in 456 children using the high-molecular-weight cell-associated protein H pylori enzyme immunoassay kit. Among the 456 children studied, 218 (age range, 3 to 18 years; mean age, 9.5 years) had symptoms of recurrent abdominal pain (RAP syndrome) with or without vomiting, and the remaining 238 (age range, 3 to 18 years; mean age, 9.8 years) had no RAP (non-RAP syndrome). We performed upper gastrointestinal endoscopy on 111 consecutive children of the 218 with RAP syndrome and obtained mucosal biopsies for culture, histologic analysis, CLO test (Delta West, Perth, Australia), and H pylori detection by polymerase chain reaction.
Results. Thirty-eight (17.4%) of 218 children in the RAP group and 25 (10.5%) of 238 children in the non-RAP group were seropositive for H pylori. Of the 111 children endoscoped, 95 were found to be negative, and 12 were positive by all five assays. Specimens from 2 children were negative by culture and the CLO test but positive by the other three assays. Specimens from 1 child were negative by histologic analysis but positive by all other tests. The remaining child was positive for anti-H pylori IgG but negative by all of the other four assays. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy detected 14 children with peptic ulcer disease (9 duodenal ulcer and 5 gastric ulcer) and 12 with antral nodular gastritis. Only 4 of the 14 diagnosed with peptic ulcer were H pylori positive by all five assays, whereas all 12 children with antral nodular gastritis were H pylori positive. Nine of the 12 H pylori-positive children were treated with a combination of bismuth subsalicylate, amoxicillin, and metronidazole for 2 weeks. Sera obtained at 2, 4, and 6 months after treatment from all 9 children showed a decrease in anti-H pylori IgG titer. Three H pylori-infected children who did not receive any treatment served as control children, and their IgG levels remained elevated or increased over time.
Conclusion. The results from our study indicate that screening for the serum IgG antibody to H pylori is a practical method for diagnosing H pylori infection in children, and that serial measurements of the H pylori IgG antibody are useful for monitoring treatment of H pylori because of its high sensitivity and ease of performance. Only 4 of the 14 children diagnosed with peptic ulcer disease were confirmed to be infected with H pylori, whereas all 12 children with antral nodular gastritis were found to be infected by H pylori. These observations suggest that H pylori infection is more frequently associated with gastritis than with peptic ulcer disease in children, and that H pylori gastritis is a cause of RAP syndrome in children.
- Received April 12, 1994.
- Accepted November 17, 1994.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics