Background: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection varies among ethnic or racial groups. This study aimed to evaluate the seroprevalence and factors associated with H. pylori infection among Khmer and Kinh children living in the same natural and social conditions in Mekong delta, Vietnam.
Methods and Findings: This cross-sectional study was conducted between October and December 2012 in the Mekong delta. We collected data using a structured questionnaire on social-economic and health status, lifestyle and living conditions from 683 Khmer and Kinh children aged between 6 months and 18 years. Additionally, data were collected from 913 adults of 485 households settling together in the same rural communes. All the participants in the study had H. pylori serology (i.e. ELISA) tested on blood samples obtained by venous puncture. H. pylori serology data were analyzed using χ2 test and logistic regression models. In our study, the overall H. pylori seroprevalence was 36.7% (32.1% in children from 6 months to 18 years versus 40.2% in adults (p<0.05), with a sharp increase in the prevalence around 3 years of age, without significant difference between Kinh and Khmer ethnics. Blood group B, absence of prejudicial habit of taking food by hand, good practice of hand washing after defecation were identified as protective factors for H. pylori infection [OR (95% CI): 0.50 (0.32-0.79), 0.48 (0.29-0.79), 0.79 (0.41-0.98); respectively]. In addition, H. pylori infection in mothers, in first sibling and in two first siblings in particular were found as high risk factors for H. pylori infection in children [OR (95% CI): 1.98 (1.12-3.18), 2.12 (1.25-4.12), 4.39 (2.81- 6.94); respectively].
Conclusions: Results of our study showed low and indifferent rates of H. pylori seropositivity in Kinh and Khmer children. Data from this study strongly suggest that environmental andindividual hygiene and some lifestyle practices should be improved to lower H. pylori infection in this population.