Toxoplasma Infection Linked to Schizophrenia

August 19, 2011 — Toxoplasma gondii infection is associated with subsequent development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, new research suggests.

In a prospective cohort study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark who had recently given birth, those with the highest levels of T gondii–specific IgG antibodies were almost twice as likely to develop this psychiatric disorder as women with low levels.

“Based on the findings, it seems advisable to take natural precautions to avoid T gondii infection,” lead author Marianne Giørtz Pederson, MSc, from the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University, Denmark, told Medscape Medical News.

In an accompanying editorial, Alan S. Brown, MD, MPH, from the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, writes that the study suggests that “environmental exposures may play a more important role in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia” than previously assumed.

“The promise of this work is underscored by the fact that many infectious exposures and other environmental insults are treatable and preventable,” he added.

The study is published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Reported by Deborah Brauser
Medscape Medical News

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