- Linking Neonatal Vitamin D to General Psychiatric Outcome


Vision: In 2010 John McGrath and the Danish researchers in the NBP Team discovered that low neonatal vitamin D was associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. This finding raises the prospect of the primary prevention of mental disorders, in a manner comparable to the role of folate supplementation in the prevention of spina bifida. We will explore if low neonatal vitamin D is linked to a wider spectrum of mental disorders.

Background: Schizophrenia is a poorly understood group of brain disorders that impacts on affect, perception, and cognition. It affects about 1 in a 100 individuals, and is associated with substantial disability. Over the last fifteen years, researchers involved in this project coordinated a program of research (including animal experiments) that has linked developmental vitamin D deficiency and brain disorders. Based on clues from the epidemiology, it was proposed that low vitamin D during early life is associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. Using neonatal dried blood samples the researchers found a significant association between neonatal vitamin D status and the risk of schizophrenia and recently replicated their findings in an independent sample (results unpublished).

Scope of new work: Clinicians have long appreciated that symptoms of different mental disorders overlap, but epidemiological and genetic studies now provide robust evidence of shared risk architecture. In collaboration with investigators on the iPSYCH project, we will measure vitamin D concentration in 80,000 samples (in the iPSYCH2012 case-cohort sample).

Key co-investigators: Preben Bo Mortensen (NCRR), Carsten Bøcker Pedersen (NCRR), David Hougaard (SSI) and Arieh Cohen (SSI).