AIM: To determine whether Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)-infected children have reduced body weight (BW) and height (BH) growth, and if H. pylori eradication may restore growth while improving serum acylated ghrelin. METHODS: This longitudinal cohort study with one-year follow-up enrolled 1222 children aged 4 to 12 years old into an observation cohort (18 with and 318 without H. pylori) and intervention cohort (75 with and 811 without). The 7-d triple therapy was used for eradication in the intervention cohort. The net increases of BW and BH as well serum acylated ghrelin after one-year follow-up were compared between successful eradicated H. pylori-infected children and controls. RESULTS: In the observation cohort, the H. pylori-infected children had lower z score of BW (-1.11 ± 0.47 vs 0.35 ± 0.69, P = 0.01) and body mass index (BMI) (0.06 ± 0.45 vs 0.44 ± 0.73, P = 0.02) at enrollment and lower net BW gain after one-year follow-up (3.3 ± 2.1 kg vs 4.5 ± 2.4 kg, P = 0.04) than the non-infected controls. In the intervention cohort, the H. pylori-infected children had lower z score of BMI (0.25 ± 1.09 vs 0.68 ± 0.87, P = 0.009) and serum acylated ghrelin levels (41.8 ± 35.6 pg/mL vs 83.6 ± 24.2 pg/mL, P < 0.001) than the non-infected controls. In addition to restoring decreased serum ghrelin levels (87.7 ± 38.0 pg/mL vs 44.2 ± 39.0 pg/mL, P < 0.001), the H. pylori-infected children with successful eradication had higher net gains (P < 0.05) and increase of z scores (P < 0.05) of both BW and BH as compared with non-infected controls after one-year follow-up. CONCLUSION: H. pylori-infected children are associated with low serum acylated ghrelin and growth retardation. Successful eradication of H. pylori restores ghrelin levels and increases growth in children.
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