Severe childhood infection may increase risk of schizophrenia

Children who are hospitalized for a severe infection might have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia, a new study revealed.

Philip R. Nielsen, a Ph.D. candidate at the National Centre for Register-Based Research in Aarhus University, Denmark, and his team reported that there was also an increased risk for schizophrenia if the child's father had been hospitalized for an infection, and that the risk held up despite what age the child had the infection.

Other studies have linked schizophrenia risk to maternal infections during pregnancy, but this is one of the first to research infections in children.

Researchers used data from two different population registers and studied a total of 843, 390 individuals. They identified 3,409 people who had been hospitalized for schizophrenia between 1991 and 2010. Of these people, 1,549 had suffered a severe infection as a child that required hospitalization.

Overall, people who were hospitalized for an infection during childhood were 50 percent more likely to develop schizophrenia compared to those that were not.

Bacteria infections seemed to pose the highest risk.

Nielsen said that the schizophrenia link may have something to do with how infection can create inflammatory responses in the brain.

“These are serious infections requiring hospitalization," he noted. "So it is only the more severe cases of infections that are implicated here, and the fact that we found raised risk if the father had a history of being hospitalized for infection indicates that there may be some familial susceptibility to infection and subsequent schizophrenia risk."

The research was presented at the 14th International Congress on Schizophrenia Research.

Source: Psych Central

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