Blood donors are often used as proxies for the general population in studies of Helicobacter pylori epidemiology. Our aim was to test if the age-specific seroprevalence rates among blood donors match with the corresponding rates in a random population sample. This descriptive study was based on sera obtained from 3,502 blood donors representing all Swedish counties and cities. An age-stratified random population sample of 1,030 from Stockholm County served as comparison. Sera were analyzed by an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for H. pylori immunoglobulin G antibodies. In the population sample, we found the expected increase with age in the seroprevalence of H. pylori infection. This was true also among young blood donors, while the prevalence-by-age curve showed a deflection downward among blood donors who are ≥ 50 years of age. In this age group, the probability of being seropositive was reduced by 73% (95% confidence interval [CI], 63 to 81%) relative to the population sample. Overall, the adjusted odds ratio for H. pylori seropositivity among blood donors was decreased by 43% (95% CI, 28 to 55%). Thus, it appears that blood donors who are H. pylori seropositive selectively disappear from the blood donor cohort. We speculate that H. pylori-seropositive blood donors may tolerate repeated bleedings less well than do noninfected individuals and/or that the general well-being among those who are infected may be somewhat impaired. Our unexpected observation indicates that blood donors may be less suitable as proxies for the general population in analytic studies of H. pylori infection and that the underlying cause needs further study
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