Vitamin D deficiency in newborn babies could trigger the onset of schizophrenia, study finds

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A new study conducted by researchers at Aarhus University and the University of Queensland has found that newborn babies with a deficiency of vitamin D could trigger the onset of schizophrenia later in their lives. The research report published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed that neonatal vitamin D deficiency could possibly account more than 8 percent of entire schizophrenia cases reported in Denmark.

As per the study report, infants who face vitamin D deficiency in the early stages of their lives have a 44 percent increased risk of developing schizophrenia in the latter stages of their lives when compared to normal kids who have normal vitamin D levels.

During the study, researchers led by Professor John McGrath analyzed the medical records of 2602 individuals and found that neonatal vitamin D deficiency has direct impacts on determining the onset of schizophrenia. The study result also indicated that the risk of schizophrenia can be reduced by treating vitamin D deficiency during the early stages of life.

"Schizophrenia is a group of poorly understood brain disorders characterized by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and cognitive impairment. As the developing fetus is totally reliant on the 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," said John McGrath.

The researcher also added that various factors including climate also has direct impacts on triggering the onset of schizophrenia. As per John McGrath, taking birth during the winter season, and living in high-latitude countries like Denmark will also elevate the chances of being the victim of schizophrenia.

"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. 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," revealed McGrath.

The researcher also made it clear the next step in the study is to conduct randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplements in pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient.