Exposure to Helicobacter pylori early in life appears to reduce the risk for developing eczema and allergic sensitization, suggest the results of a study published in the April 2014 edition of Clinical & Experimental Allergy.
Researchers investigated the effects of H pylori infection on allergic diseases and sensitization using a population-based cohort of 863 children in Butajira, Ethiopia. H pylori infection was found in 25% of the cohort at 3 and 5 years of age; in 21% of the cohort at 5 years of age, but not at 3 years of age; and in 17% of the cohort at 3 years of age, but not 5 years of age.
Infection with H pylori was associated with a 69% decrease in the risk of incident eczema, whereas exposure to H pylori at 5 years of age was associated with a 74% decrease in risk of sensitization. Although researchers checked for sectional and longitudinal associations for wheeze and rhinitis, no significant associations could be made.
“Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that H pylori has a protective role against allergy, particularly eczema and sensitization, although further study is needed to establish causality,” the researchers wrote.