Study shows link between inflammation in maternal blood and schizophrenia in offspring

July 8, 2014
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other brain imaging technologies allow for the study of differences in brain activity in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The image shows two levels of the brain, with areas that were more active in healthy controls than in schizophrenia patients shown in orange, during an fMRI study of working memory. Credit: Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S./PLoS One.

Maternal inflammation as indicated by the presence in maternal blood of early gestational C-reactive protein—an established inflammatory biomarker—appears to be associated with greater risk for schizophrenia in offspring, according to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The study, "Elevated Maternal C-Reactive Protein and Increased Risk of Schizophrenia in a National Birth Cohort," is published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The Columbia researchers with colleagues in Finland conducted an analysis of data from the Finnish Prenatal Study of Schizophrenia, a large, national birth cohort with an extensive bio-bank. They tested for the presence of C-reactive protein in the maternal blood of 777 offspring with and compared the findings with those from 777 control subjects. Maternal C-reactive protein levels were assessed from archived maternal serum specimens.

They found that increasing maternal C-reactive protein levels were significantly associated with development of schizophrenia in offspring and remained significant after adjusting for potential confounders such as parental history of psychiatric disorders, twin/singleton birth, location of birth, and maternal socioeconomic status. For every 1 mg/L increase in maternal C-reactive , the risk of schizophrenia increased by 28%.

"This is the first time that this association has been demonstrated, indicating that an infection or increased inflammation during pregnancy could increase the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring," said Alan Brown, MD, MPH, professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry and senior author. "Inflammation has been shown to alter brain development in previous studies, and schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Thus, this study provides an important link between inflammation and schizophrenia and may help us to better understand the biological mechanisms that lead to this disorder. To the extent that the increased inflammation is due to infection, this work may suggest that approaches aimed at preventing infection may have the potential to reduce risk of schizophrenia." There are many other known causes of , including tissue injury and autoimmune disease, although the researchers did not examine these specific conditions in this study.

Explore further: Schizophrenia and cannabis use may share common genes

Related Stories

Schizophrenia and cannabis use may share common genes

June 24, 2014
Genes that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia may also increase the likelihood of using cannabis, according to a new study led by King's College London, published today in Molecular Psychiatry.

Children of older dads more likely to suffer mental illness, study shows

January 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Children with older fathers are more susceptible to mental health disorders a University of Queensland (UQ) study has found.

Maternal gluten sensitivity linked to schizophrenia risk in children

May 11, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Babies born to women with sensitivity to gluten appear to be at increased risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders later in life, according to new findings from Karolinska Institutet ...

Prenatal inflammation linked to autism risk

January 24, 2013
Maternal inflammation during early pregnancy may be related to an increased risk of autism in children, according to new findings supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National ...

How mom's immune system is linked to autism risk

September 23, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Activating a mother's immune system during her pregnancy disrupts the development of neural cells in the brain of her offspring and damages the cells' ability to transmit signals and communicate with one ...

Recommended for you

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.