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Haematological response to iron supplementation is reduced in children with asymptomatic Helicobacter pylori infection

  • Dilip Mahalanabis (a1), M. Aminul Islam (a2), Saijuddin Shaikh (a1), Monilal Chakrabarty (a3), Anura V. Kurpad (a4), Swagata Mukherjee (a5), Bandana Sen (a1), M. Abu Khaled (a2) and Sten H. Vermund (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2007

We evaluated the adverse effect of asymptomatic Helicobacter pylori infection in children on the response to Fe supplementation. One hundred and sixty-nine children aged 1–10 years from the urban poor community underwent a [13C]urea breath test for H. pylori and haematological tests at admission and after 8 weeks. Both H. pylori-positive and -negative children were randomly assigned to receive ferrous fumarate syrup (20 mg elemental Fe twice daily) or placebo for 8 weeks and a single dose of vitamin A (33,000μg). Admission findings were compared between H. pylori-positive and -negative children. Response to Fe was compared between Fe-supplemented H. pylori-positive and -negative children. Seventy-nine per cent of the children were aged 1–5 years and half of them were boys. In eighty-five H. pylori-positive and eighty-four H. pylori-negative children, the differences in mean Hb (112 (sd 12·6) v. 113 (sd 12·0) g/l), haematocrit (34 (sd 3·5) v. 35 (sd 3·2) %) and ferritin (23·8 v. 21·0 μg/l) were similar. After 8 weeks of Fe supplementation, mean Hb was 5·3 g/l more (95 % CI 1·59, 9·0) and haematocrit was 1·4 % more (95 % CI 0·2, 2·6) in H. pylori-negative (n 44) compared with H. pylori-positive (n 42) children. Mean ferritin was similar at admission and improved in both H. pylori-positive and -negative children. Asymptomatic H. pylori infection was not associated with higher rates of anaemia or Fe deficiency in children, but had a significant adverse effect on response to Fe therapy. However, this result is based on exploratory analysis and needs confirmation.

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*Corresponding author: Dr Dilip Mahalanabis, fax +91 33 2337 6290, email
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British Journal of Nutrition
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