Babies with low Vitamin D face double risk of schizophrenia

Updated: Sep 08, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Sydney: Newborn babies with low levels of Vitamin D face double the risk of schizophrenia later in life.

A study conducted by the Queensland University Brain Institute confirmed that those with low Vitamin D had a two-fold increased risk of developing the disorder.

Schizophrenia is a poorly understood group of brain disorders that is usually present in young adults. Symptoms include hearing voices and delusions.

The Queensland research team used tiny samples of blood taken as part of routine screening from newborn babies in Denmark, reports the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

They then compared Vitamin D concentrations in babies who later developed schizophrenia with healthy controls, according to a statement of Queensland University.

Their study confirmed those with low Vitamin D had double the risk of developing the disorder.

Vitamin D or the `sunshine hormone` is the result of sunshine on the skin. While it has been known to be important for healthy bones, the Queensland team also discovered that it is also important for healthy brain growth.

Low Vitamin D is common in many countries. Researchers have previously found that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in winter.

"While we need to replicate these findings, the study opens up the possibility that improving Vitamin D levels in pregnant women and newborn babies could reduce the risk of later schizophrenia," investigator John McGrath of Queensland said.