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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 13 (1999), Issue 7, Pages 567-570

13C Urea Breath Testing to Diagnose Helicobacter pylori Infection in Children

Colette Deslandres

Division of Gastroenterology-Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, Ste-Justine Hospital, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The causal relationship between Helicobacter pylori colonization of the gastric mucosa and gastritis has been proven. Endoscopy and subsequent histological examination of antral biopsies have been regarded as the gold standard for diagnosing H pylori gastritis. The 13C urea breath test is a noninvasive test with a high specificity and sensitivity for H pylori colonization. Increasingly, it is becoming an important tool for use in diagnosing H pylori infection in paediatric populations. This test is particularly well suited for epidemiological studies evaluating reinfection rates, spontaneous clearance of infection and eradication rates after therapy. However, few groups have validated the test in the pediatric age group. The testing protocol has not yet been standardized. Variables include fasting state, dose of urea labelled with 13C, delta cutoff level of 13C carbon dioxide, choice of test meal and timing of collection of expired breath samples. Further studies are urgently needed to evaluate critically the impact of H pylori infection in children. The 13C urea breath test should prove very useful in such prospective studies.