Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Helicobacter Pylori in Children

What is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)?

H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium found in the stomach, which (along with acid secretion) damages stomach and duodenal tissue, causing inflammation and peptic ulcers. H. pylori causes the majority of ulcers.

Digestive tract


How does H. pylori cause damage? 

It is believed that H. pylori's shape and characteristics cause the damage that leads to ulcers.

Because of their shape and the way they move, the bacteria can penetrate the stomach's protective mucous lining where they cause inflammation. The inflammation makes the stomach cells more susceptible to the damaging effects of acid and pepsin, and leads to sores or ulcers in the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

 For reasons not completely understood, H. pylori can also stimulate the stomach to make more acid.

What causes an H. pylori infection?

Researchers do not know what causes people to develop H. pylori. It is believed that H. pylori is transmitted orally from person to person through close contact (kissing) or through fecal-oral contact. Most people are first exposed to it during childhood. 

What are the symptoms of H. pylori?

The following are the most common symptoms of H. pylori. However, each person may experience symptoms differently.

After being infected with H. pylori, gastritis -- an inflammation of the stomach lining -- may develop. However, most people will never have symptoms or problems related to the infection. When symptoms are present, they may include the following:

  • Abdominal discomfort, which may:

    • Cause a dull, gnawing pain

    • Occur 2 to 3 hours after a meal

    • Come and go for several days or weeks

    • Occur in the middle of the night when stomach is empty

    • Be relieved by eating or taking an antacid medication

  • Loss of weight

  • Loss of appetite

  • Bloating

  • Burping

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

The symptoms of H. pylori may look like other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is H. pylori diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, you may have other tests including:

  • Blood tests. These tests identify antibodies that indicate the presence of the bacterium.

  • Stool test. This test identifies evidence of the bacterium in the stool.

  • Breath tests. This test determines if carbon is present after drinking a solution that contains urea. The presence of carbon indicates the release of urease by H. pylori. 

  • Tissue tests. Tissue is removed during an endoscopy. The endoscopy or EGD is a procedure that allows the doctor to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The endoscope allows the doctor to view the inside of this area of the body, as well as to insert instruments through a scope for the removal of a sample of tissue for biopsy (if necessary). This tissue is used to:

    • Detect the presence of the enzyme urease

    • Examine the bacteria that is present under a microscope

    • Start a culture test to grow more bacteria for examination

Treatment for H. pylori

Specific treatment will be determined by your child's doctor based on the following:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • The extent of the disease

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • The expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics to kill the bacteria

  • Medications to suppress acid production, including:

    • H2-blockers. They reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces by blocking histamine, a powerful stimulant of acid secretion.

    • Proton pump inhibitors. They more completely block stomach acid production by stopping the stomach's acid pump, which is the final step of acid secretion.

    • Stomach-lining protectors. They protect the stomach lining from acid and help kill the bacteria.

<em>Helicobacter Pylori</em> in Children - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Bundy, Marianne, MSN, RN, CEN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2014-04-15T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2014-05-20T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2014-10-02T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.