Helicobacter pylori infection is usually acquired during childhood.
Early age at first infection may determine a neoplastic outcome in adults.
In this study, physicians from Colombia and the United States measured the prevalence of H. pylori infection in children living in areas of high and low risk of gastric cancer.
The team sought to determine whether differences in the age of acquisition of H. pylori infection were present in the 2 populations.
The team based their study sample on a census taken in 1999.
They used 13C-urea breath tests to compare the prevalence of H. pylori infection in children aged 1 to 6 years.
In the 345 children in the high risk area, 60% were H. pylori-positive. In the low risk area 59% were H. pylori-positive.
The team found that the 2 populations shared a common pattern of very early age at infection and marked increase in prevalence during the first 4 years of life.
Dr Constanza Camargo and colleagues concluded, "The prevalence of infection was similarly high and increased with age in both populations".
"In these populations the age of acquisition of H. pylori after 1 year of age does not appear to be a primary factor responsible for the differences in the rates of gastric cancer incidence in adults".