Vitamin D and the Risk of Schizophrenia

- Accelerating research to prevent victims of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a poorly understood group of disorders that affects approximately one in a hundred people. The mental disease leads to much suffering for the affected individuals and their relatives, and have huge economic costs for the society. In fact, mental and behavioural disorders are among the leading causes of disability worldwide. 

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of diseases and health states across place and time. By examining where and when mental diseases occur, the “holy grail” for psychiatric epidemiologists is to find preventable causes and then to use safe and cheap public health interventions to reduce the burden of diseases such as schizophrenia, depression, ADHD etc.

In collaboration with colleagues at Aarhus University, Queensland University and Statens Serum Institute, Professor John McGrath published paper in 2019 supporting his hypothesis from 2010, that low vitamin D levels early in life is a risk factor for schizophrenia. The new paper shows that if an orphan has a low vitamin D level at birth, it has 44 per cent increased risk for developing schizophrenia later in life

This Niels Bohr Professorship will enable Professor McGrath and the NBP team to accelerate this research, so that further discoveries will hopefully prevent victims of schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders in the future. Their vision is that a simple dose of vitamin at birth in the future will help prevent a range of mental disorders later on in life.

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The association between neonatal vitamin D status and the risk of schizophrenia