Researchers from the Karolinksa Institutet in Sweden analyzed medical records of more than 1 million individuals from birth to adulthood to assess the link between childhood infections and nonaffective psychosis. The results showed that those who were hospitalized for an infection between birth and age 13 were 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with nonaffective psychosis than those who were not hospitalized for an infection, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, and familial psychiatric history.
Researchers also found that bacterial infection and infection of the central nervous system during the preadolescent years (ages 10 to 13) further increased the risk for developing nonaffective psychosis in adulthood.
The authors suggested that individuals who later develop nonaffective psychosis might have subtle immune deficiencies that render them more susceptible to early-life infections, but whether these infections reflect a vulnerability that may be associated with social or genetic risk factors remains to be determined.
For more information on the current study, see the Psychiatric News article, "Link Found Between Childhood Infections, Later Psychosis. To read about other studies linking infections to serious mental disorders, see the article, "Psychiatrist Hunts for Evidence Of Infection Theory of Schizophrenia." Also see "A Nationwide Study on the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases in Individuals With a Personal or a Family History of Schizophrenia and Related Psychosis" in the February American Journal of Psychiatry.
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