Babies With Low Vitamin D Are More Likely to Be Schizophrenic Later!
Researchers in Australia have found that newborn babies with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life.
Inspired by previous research that showed that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in the winter or spring, a team of scientists and doctors at the Queensland Brain Institute looked at routine blood samples from Danish babies.
The study, published September 7 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that babies with low levels of vitamin D had twice the risk of developing schizophrenia as did babies in the healthy control group.
"The study makes sense from a theoretical basis," Dr. David Y. Hahn, medical director of adult psychiatry at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, told AOL Health. "We know there are a lot of vitamin D receptors in the brain, so you can hypothesize that vitamin D would have an effect on learning, memory and behavior." Each of those cognitive functions is among those affected in schizophrenic patients.
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" and aids in bone strength, cell growth and brain development. Just 10 minutes of daily sun exposure (without sunscreen, unless the child burns easily) is believed sufficient to prevent deficiencies.
The vitamin is also available in eggs, fish, fortified milk and cod liver oil. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that infants, children and adolescents, especially in northern regions, take 400 IU per day in supplement form.
"Schizophrenia is thought to be more common the further away you are from the equator, though it hasn't necessarily been looked into in terms of climates," said Hahn, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University Medical Center. "You can assume that there is more sunlight in warmer climates closer to the equator and could hypothesize that there is a correlation."
Schizophrenia is a brain disease that affects about 1 percent of the population. Male sufferers show symptoms between the ages of 15 and 25, while women don't have signs of the illness until their mid-20s to mid-30s.
Schizophrenics often hallucinate, have delusions and are paranoid. They also may have trouble maintaining jobs and social relationships.
The disease is poorly understood, though researchers hypothesize that it can be caused by genetic, prenatal, social or environmental factors.
One theory suggests that an infection during pregnancy could be responsible for certain cases of schizophrenia. Recent research seems to indicate that living in an urban (and likely poor) environment raises the risk. And studies of identical twins show that both twins have schizophrenia only 50 percent of the time, ruling out a purely genetic basis for the disease.
By Justine van der Leun Sep 8th 2010