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Schizophr Res. 1999 Dec 21;40(3):173-7.

Hypothesis: is low prenatal vitamin D a risk-modifying factor for schizophrenia?

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Queensland Centre for Schizophrenia Research, Wolston Park Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


The central nervous system is increasingly being recognised as a target organ for vitamin D via its wide-ranging steroid hormonal effects and via the induction of various proteins such as nerve growth factor. This paper proposes that low maternal vitamin D may impact adversely on the developing foetal brain, leaving the affected offspring at increased risk of adult-onset schizophrenia. The hypothesis can parsimoniously explain diverse epidemiological features of schizophrenia, such as the excess of winter births, increased rates of schizophrenia in dark-skinned migrants to cold climates, the increased rate of schizophrenia births in urban versus rural setting, and the association between prenatal famine and schizophrenia. Studies that will allow rejection of the hypothesis are proposed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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