Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Helicobacter pylori is not associated with anaemia in Latin America: results from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela

Ina S Santosa1 c1, Jose Boccioa2, Lena Davidssona3, Manuel Hernandez-Trianaa4, Elizabeth Huanca-Sardinasa5, Mariana Janjetica2, Silvia Y Moya-Camarenaa6, Maria C Paez-Valerya7, Vladimir Ruiz-Alvareza4, Mauro E Valenciaa6, Neiva CJ Vallea1, Greta Vargas-Pintoa5, Liseti Solanoa7 and Julian Thomasa8

a1 Postgraduate Course Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Rua Marechal Deodoro 1160, Pelotas, RS, Brazil

a2 Stable Isotopes Laboratory, School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

a3 International Atomic Energy Agency, Nutritional and Health-Related Environmental Studies Section, Vienna, Austria

a4 Department of Biochemistry and Physiology, Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Havana, Cuba

a5 Institute of Nuclear Medicine, San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca University, Sucre, Bolivia

a6 Research Centre for Food Development, Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, Hermosillo, Mexico

a7 Centre of Nutritional Research, Carabobo University, Barbula, Valencia, Venezuela

a8 School of Clinical Medical Sciences (Child Health), Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Objective To investigate the association between Helicobacter pylori infection and anaemia.

Design Six cross-sectional studies. H. pylori infection was assessed by the [13C]urea breath test using MS or IR analysis. Hb was measured for all countries. Ferritin and transferrin receptors were measured for Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Setting Health services in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico or public schools in Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.

Subjects In Argentina, 307 children aged 4–17 years referred to a gastroenterology unit; in Bolivia, 424 randomly selected schoolchildren aged 5–8 years; in Brazil, 1007 adults (157 men, 850 women) aged 18–45 years attending thirty-one primary health-care units; in Cuba, 996 randomly selected schoolchildren aged 6–14 years; in Mexico, seventy-one pregnant women in their first trimester attending public health clinics; in Venezuela, 418 children aged 4–13 years attending public schools.

Results The lowest prevalence of H. pylori found was among children in Argentina (25·1 %) and the highest in Bolivia (74·0 %). In Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela children showed similar prevalence of H. pylori infection as in Brazilian and Mexican adults (range 47·5 % to 81·8 %). Overall anaemia prevalence was 11·3 % in Argentina, 15·4 % in Bolivia, 20·6 % in Brazil, 10·5 % in Cuba and 8·9 % in Venezuela. Adjusted analyses allowing for confounding variables showed no association between H. pylori colonization and anaemia in any study. Hb, ferritin and transferrin receptor levels were also not associated with H. pylori infection in any country.

Conclusions The present study showed no evidence to support the hypothesis that H. pylori contributes to anaemia in children, adolescents, adults or pregnant women in six Latin American countries.

(Received February 20 2008)

(Accepted December 07 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email