Newborns with Vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of schizophrenia later in life, researchers report. The discovery could prevent some cases of the disease, and shows that neonatal vitamin D deficiency could possibly account for about 8 per cent of all schizophrenia cases in Denmark.
The study found that newborns with vitamin D deficiency had a 44 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia as adults, compared to those with normal Vitamin D levels.
The new study is based on 2602 individuals. The study confirms a previous study that also found an association between neonatal vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of schizophrenia. The findings support the hypothesis that the risk of schizophrenia could be reduced with the treatment of vitamin D deficiency during the earliest stages of life.
"As the developing fetus is totally reliant on mother's vitamin D stores, our findings suggest that ensuring pregnant women have adequate levels of vitamin D may result in the prevention of some schizophrenia cases, in a manner comparable to the role folate supplementation has played in the prevention of spina bifida."
The team made the discovery by analysing vitamin D concentration in blood samples taken from Danish newborns between 1981 and 2000 who had gone on to develop schizophrenia as young adults. The researchers compared these samples to those of people matched by sex and date of birth who had not developed schizophrenia. The research was published in Scientific Reports .
"Much of the attention in schizophrenia research has been focused on modifiable factors early in life with the goal of reducing the burden of this disease. Previous research identified an increased risk of schizophrenia associated with being born in winter or spring and living in a high-latitude country, such as Denmark," the author says.
"We hypothesized that low vitamin D levels in pregnant women due to a lack of sun exposure during winter months might underlie this risk, and investigated the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia.".
"The next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplements in pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient, in order to examine the impact on child brain development and risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia"
Link between newborns with vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia confirmed
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