Pets are not a risk factor for Helicobacter pylori infection in young children: results of a population-based study in Southern Germany

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Abstract

Background.

Helicobacter pylori may have multiple routes of transmission. It is unclear, however, whether the agent is also zoonotic and therefore transmitted from an animal reservoir.

Aims.

The aim of this population-based study was to assess the relationship of exposure to pets and H. pylori infection among children in a population-based sample in Ulm, a city in the South of Germany.

Subjects and methods.

All children of German nationality who were to attend first grade in the school year 1996/1997 were included in the study. The 13C-urea breath test was used to determine active infection status. In addition the parents filled out a questionnaire to provide information about pets in the household as well as living conditions and socioeconomic factors of the family.

Results.

Of 927 eligible preschool children 685 (74%) participated in the study. Prevalence of infection was 6.3%. Infection with H. pylori was not positively associated with contact with pets in general (p = 0.720) or to a specific kind of animal in bivariate and multivariable analyses as evaluated by means of logistic regression.

Conclusions.

These results suggest that pets in the household are not a risk factor for H. pylori infection among children in this population.

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