Time trends and geographical variation of Helicobacter pylori antibodies in Finland were investigated by enzyme immunoassay in 20- to 34-year-old randomly selected females from six localities during 1969-73 (n = 375), and 15- to 45-year-old females representing nine communities and four geographical areas in 1983 (n = 882) and 1995 (n = 842). In the six communities investigated at three different time points, the overall prevalence declined from 38 to 12%, with an emphasis on the latter 12 years. The regionally varying rate of decrease in helicobacter prevalence changed the pre-existing geographical variation, leaving northern Finland with the highest rate. A 10%-units higher local helicobacter prevalence seemed to predict a 23% (95% CI 3-44%) higher gastric cancer incidence 20 years later. The overall decline in helicobacter seropositivity is consistent with earlier reports from Finland and other developed countries, and supports the cohort theory as an explanation for the age-related increase in H. pylori seroprevalence.
The prevalence of helicobacter antibodies increases with age and, in many developed countries, is highest in people born before 1940. Data on very old subjects are, however, limited. In this study we wanted to determine whether the age-related increase in the seroprevalence of H. pylori infection continues even in the oldest age group alive in Finland, the centenarians.
Sera from 173 subjects (93% of all centenarians alive in Finland in 1991) were available for the present study. IgG and IgA antibodies against H. pylori were determined by an in-house enzyme immunoassay. To estimate the influence of atrophic gastritis on the prevalence of helicobacter antibodies, serum pepsinogen I (PG I) concentrations and parietal cell antibodies (PCAs) were measured by an enzyme immunoassay and indirect immunofluorescence, respectively.
The prevalence of helicobacter antibodies in Finnish centenarians was 66%. Low PG I values (
Helicobacter pylori is an important gastric pathogen usually acquired in childhood. The presumed lifelong progression of H. pylori infection has recently been called into question in some longitudinal studies on children. In this follow-up study the prevalence and persistence of H. pylori antibodies in Finnish children and adolescents from three communities was determined.
We measured H. pylori antibodies in follow-up serum samples of 337 Finnish children who participated in a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine study started in 1982. All available samples collected in 1983, 1987 and 1995 were studied first; additional serum samples collected yearly were studied from children who became seropositive during the follow-up period.
The overall prevalence of H. pylori antibodies was 5.6%. About two-thirds of the Helicobacter infections were acquired before the age of 7 years; of the remaining one-third the time of seroconversion varied between 7 and 19 years. No seroreverters were found. There were no statistically significant differences in the seroprevalence of H. pylori antibodies in the three communities studied.
The prevalence of H. pylori antibodies in Finnish children studied was low. Although the majority of new infections were found in children younger than 7 years of age, new Helicobacter infections were acquired throughout childhood and adolescence. Once acquired H. pylori infection, as verified by Helicobacter antibodies, persisted.