Does Heliobacter Infection Protect Against Asthma?

Electron micrograph of H. pylori possessing mu...
Electron micrograph of H. pylori possessing multiple flagella (negative staining) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s another twist on the “dirty kids are healthy kids” medical model.  It turns out that having a heliobacter infection may help prevent the onset of asthma.  (Review Abstract below).

Which brings up a relevant concern.  Heliobacter causes stomach ulcers when it gets out of hand.  But the antibiotic treatment is relatively short compared to the lifelong steroid use that often accompanies asthma.  Will we be seeing doctors infect children at high risk for asthma with heliobacter as a preventative?  Probably not in our lifetime, but it would be a complete turnaround.  People don’t realize that even the idea of probiotics means that doctors want their patients to cultivate bacteria.  A strange new world, indeed.

The Association Between Asthma and Helicobacter pylori: A Meta-Analysis Helicobacter, 10/08/2012 Clinical Article

Wang Q et al. – The severity and incidence of asthma have increased drastically in the developed nations of the world over the last decades. Currently, some evidences indicate an inverse association between Helicobacter pylori and asthma, but some studies did not get the same conclusion. To make this question clear, the authors systematically reviewed the published evidence for an association between H. pylori infection and asthma. They found a weak evidence for an inverse association between asthma and H. pylori infection both in children and in adults.


  • Medline and SCI databases up to April 2012 were searched to identify studies that evaluated the association between H. pylori and asthma.
  • Relevant publications were searched using the following keywords or synonyms: asthma or Helicobacter pylori.
  • Methodologic quality was scored by using a standardized list of criteria, and meta-analysis was conducted to calculate crude odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).



  • Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria: nine cross-sectional studies, seven case–control studies, and three prospective cohort studies.
  • The overall methodologic quality score was high.
  • Pooled ORs for the association between asthma and H. pylori infection were 0.84 (95% CI: 0.74-0.96) in nine cross-sectional studies, 0.94 (95% CI: 0.79-1.12) in seven case–control studies, and 0.82 (95% CI: 0.53-1.27) in three cohort studies.
  • The pooled OR for all included studies was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.72-0.91) in children and 0.88 (95% CI: 0.71-1.08) in adults.

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