UQ Logo Schizophrenia seems to be a poorly understood group of brain disorders that may affect about one in 100 Australians. It is generally first detected among young adults and common symptoms include hearing voices and delusions. Experts from Queensland Brain Institute underline that new born babies with low levels of vitamin D may have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.

Scientists utilized small samples of blood taken as part of routine screening from newborn babies in Denmark. Further, they compared vitamin D concentrations among babies who developed schizophrenia with healthy controls. Experts share the analysis to have highlighted that those with low vitamin D faced a twofold enhanced risk of developing the disorder.

Investigator Professor John McGrath commented, “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.”

Vitamin D is generally known as the Sunshine hormone as it is may be a result of sunshine on the skin. Previous data reveals that the vitamin is essential for healthy bones, however the Queensland team has now identified that it may also play a vital role for healthy brain growth.

“While the links between vitamin D and bone growth have long been appreciated, the fact that we have discovered it is also important for healthy brain growth is a vital step forward,” quoted Professor McGrath.

Low vitamin D is common in several countries and scientists observed that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in winter. Similar to how pregnant women are motivated to amplify folate to lower the risk of spina bifida in their children, these findings may ultimately inform public health messages.

Experts conclude by saying that Vitamin D is essential for cell growth and communication in all organs in the body, therefore deficiency of vitamin D may affect development of the brain.

These findings were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.