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Vitamin D Levels in Newborns Tied to Schizophrenia Risk

Those with low or high neonatal serum levels of vitamin D have increased risk of schizophrenia

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Both low and high serum concentrations of vitamin D in neonates are associated with an elevated risk of eventual development of schizophrenia, according to a study in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

John J. McGrath, M.D., of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research in Wacol, Australia, and colleagues tested for concentration of 25 hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3) in neonatal blood samples from 424 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia (from the Danish national health registers and neonatal biobank) and 424 controls matched for sex and date of birth. The researchers assessed schizophrenia risk by vitamin D quintile.

Compared with neonates in the fourth quintile (25[OH]D3 concentrations between 40.5 and 50.9 nmol/L), the researchers found that subjects from the first, second, third, and fifth quintiles had significantly increased risks of schizophrenia (relative risks, 2.1, 2.0, 2.1, and 1.71, respectively). Based on their analysis, the researchers estimated the population-attributable fraction of schizophrenia associated with neonatal vitamin D status to be 44 percent.

"Both low and high concentrations of neonatal vitamin D are associated with increased risk of schizophrenia, and it is feasible that this exposure could contribute to a sizeable proportion of cases in Denmark. In light of the substantial public health implications of this finding, there is an urgent need to further explore the effect of vitamin D status on brain development and later mental health," the authors write.

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