HP Bacterial Infection in Children: Timing for Treatment
Helicobacter pylori infection, responsible for peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer in children, does not uniformly necessitate treatment. Not all cases of HP testing warrant immediate intervention.
1. Is Helicobacter pylori Contagious?
Helicobacter pylori (HP) bacteria exhibit high contagion rates, with three primary modes of transmission:
- Oral Transmission: Beyond residing in the stomach lining, HP can also be found in saliva and dental plaque. Cultural practices like communal eating, sharing utensils, and dipping sauces elevate the risk of infection.
- Gastrointestinal Tract Infection: Inadequate endoscope cleaning during medical procedures can lead to HP transmission from patients to healthy individuals.
- Fecal-Oral Route: HP exists in the feces of infected persons, making transmission possible through improper hand hygiene, as well as via insects (flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches) that can carry the pathogen to food.
2. What Ailments are Caused by HP Bacteria?
HP infection is prevalent in the population, but the majority of carriers remain asymptomatic. Although it is typically silent, the infection often leads to chronic conditions such as gastritis or peptic ulcers.
3. Treatment for Children Infected with HP Bacteria: Appropriate Timing
Many parents, fearing ulcers and stomach cancer, urge immediate eradication of HP upon a child's positive test result. It's important to understand that even post-HP treatment, re-infection is likely due to children's lack of hygiene awareness while eating and drinking.
Presently, if HP infection is symptomless, treatment isn't an immediate priority. In-depth study of HP bacteria reveals that in some instances, its presence might not necessarily be harmful. Without symptoms, HP can act as symbiotic bacteria, occasionally exerting positive effects on the human body.
As per expert recommendations, the following cases warrant HP eradication to safeguard health and well-being:
- Peptic Ulcer: HP-induced ulcers may recur if the bacteria aren't eradicated, potentially affecting stomach and duodenal bulb.
- Functional Dyspepsia.
- Unexplained Thrombocytopenia Bleeding.
- Post-Stomach Cancer Surgery.
- Anemia and Iron Deficiency.
- Family History of Stomach Cancer: In cases involving parents, siblings, etc.
- Gastric Mucosa Atrophy.