Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Finds Maternal Exposure To Parasitic Infection May Increase Risk Of Schizophrenia In Offspring

Date:
May 17, 2005
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests an association between maternal exposure to toxoplasmosis and increased risk for developing schizophrenia in adult children. The study, which evaluated archived blood samples from pregnant women was conducted by researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, Northern California Region.

A study published last month in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests an association between maternal exposure to toxoplasmosis and increased risk for developing schizophrenia in adult children. The study, which evaluated archived blood samples from pregnant women who participated in a large birth cohort called the Child Health and Development Study (CHDS) from 1959-1967, was conducted by researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, Northern California Region.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can develop from eating undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables, drinking contaminated water, or not washing one's hands after gardening or changing cat litter boxes. Researchers found a potential link between high maternal toxoplasmosis gondii antibody titers and development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders in the adult offspring. No association was found for moderate antibody titers. While active toxoplasmosis infection is known to adversely affect fetal brain development, this is the first suggestion of a possible association between an elevated maternal antibody to toxoplasmosis and the risk of schizophrenia.

"These findings underscore the value of prenatal serologic samples to document how maternal infectious disease exposures affect the development of adult disorders over time," said Alan Brown, MD, lead author and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and epidemiology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University and Mailman School of Public Health. Since publication of this study, another group presented similar findings at a recent scientific conference. Their study, based in Denmark, also suggests a potential link between elevated levels of maternal toxoplasmosis gondii antibody and increased risk for schizophrenia among adult offspring. Dr. Brown noted, "While it's as good an idea as ever to wash hands before eating and to cook meat thoroughly, these studies are too preliminary to lead to new public health recommendations."

The risk of schizophrenia spectrum disorders in the general population is about one percent. The increase related to high toxoplasma antibody suggested by the Columbia study would add another one to two percent to this risk.

"Evidence from this and previous studies leads us to consider that the increased risk for schizophrenia may not stem from exposure to a specific infectious disease, but from a mechanism secondary to infection, such as inflammation," said Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH, Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Susser is also senior investigator of the Prenatal Determinants of Schizophrenia (PDS) study, and head of Epidemiology of Brain Disorders at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He added, "The current findings, while intriguing, must be replicated in a larger sample before we can conclude that elevated toxoplasma antibody in a pregnant woman could predispose her unborn child to develop schizophrenia later in life."

The PDS study is based in the Child Health and Development Study (CHDS) cohort initiated by Jacob Yerushalmy at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959, in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan in Northern California (KPNC). The goal of the CHDS was to examine influences on outcomes of pregnancy and childhood health and development. The CHDS recruited nearly every pregnant woman under obstetric care from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (KFHP) in Alameda County, California. The 19,044 offspring of these women born between 1959 and 1967 were automatically enrolled in KFHP. In addition to collecting and storing blood sera samples, the CHDS study collected extensive data on the prenatal period, and conducted maternal interviews on family health history, maternal and paternal health habits, and maternal and paternal socio-demographic information. In 1997- 1999, the research team used electronic databases to identify adult CHDS offspring that might have developed schizophrenia during the period between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1997. These individuals were invited to participate in a diagnostic interview, and those who participated and were confirmed to have schizophrenia or disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum, were then compared with carefully matched individuals from the CHDS who did not develop these disorders.

In August 2004, the researchers determined in the same cohort that prenatal exposure to influenza may increase the risk for schizophrenia years later. Both of these findings are part of the larger team PDS study, which examines prenatal infection, nutrition, chemical exposure, paternal age, and a range of other prenatal factors that influence schizophrenia risk.

The PDS research is one of a number of "life course studies" being overseen by Dr. Susser at the Mailman School. In addition to the CHDS study, Dr. Susser and his team are looking at large birth cohorts from the U.S., Israel, and Norway to observe the pathogenesis of chronic and acute diseases and their links to prenatal and postnatal exposure to environmental factors such as viruses and toxins.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Study Finds Maternal Exposure To Parasitic Infection May Increase Risk Of Schizophrenia In Offspring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517063533.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2005, May 17). Study Finds Maternal Exposure To Parasitic Infection May Increase Risk Of Schizophrenia In Offspring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517063533.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Study Finds Maternal Exposure To Parasitic Infection May Increase Risk Of Schizophrenia In Offspring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517063533.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins