In a major prospective study, researchers have identified an elevated risk of schizophrenia in women who have high levels of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii, a microscopic protozoa that causes the infection known as toxoplasmosis. The study sample consisted of more than 45,000 women in Denmark who had given birth from 1992 to 1995. The women were followed up until 2008. Previous studies have shown such an association in adults who already have schizophrenia, but this study was the first to replicate that finding in a prospective cohort study. A report of the study appears in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and is posted online at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/168/8/814.
In an extensive commentary in the same issue of the journal, Alan Brown, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University notes that this new study adds to previous research "suggesting that environmental exposures may play a more important role in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia than has been previously assumed." Read Brown's commentary at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/168/8/764.
Read more about the links between schizophrenia and infection in Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/45/6/1.2.full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/45/6/19.1.full.