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December 15, 1999

Where Does Helicobacter pylori Come From and Why Is It Going Away?

JAMA. 1999;282(23):2260-2262. doi:10.1001/jama.282.23.2260

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that is a long-term inhabitant of the human stomach, usually persisting for the lifetime of its host. Individuals who carry H pylori are at higher risk for developing peptic ulcer disease and noncardiac gastric carcinoma than those who do not carry the organism.1 Although carriage is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain either disease, physicians have become increasingly concerned with H pylori since the recognition that eliminating its colonization often changes the natural history of peptic ulcer disease.2 In many parts of the world, especially in developing countries, the preponderance of adults carry H pylori.3Helicobacter pylori is acquired early in life; by age 10 years, more than 50% of children worldwide carry this organism.3 Thus, it is important to understand where H pylori, so common in human ecology, originates.

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