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Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Oct;81:341-347. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.06.031. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

Childhood infections and schizophrenia: The impact of parental SES and mental illness, and childhood adversities.

Author information

1
Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Department of Psychosis, Denmark; The National Centre for Register-Based Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH, Aarhus, Denmark. Electronic address: jcd@econ.au.dk.
2
The National Centre for Register-Based Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH, Aarhus, Denmark.
3
The National Centre for Register-Based Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH, Aarhus, Denmark; CIRRAU - Centre for Integrated Register-based Research at Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Abstract

Childhood infection has been proposed as an important etiologic factor for schizophrenia. However, it is unclear to what extent the association between childhood infection and schizophrenia is confounded by parental socioeconomic status and mental illness, and childhood adversity, and whether the association is explained by familial liability for infections. We used a historical, population-based cohort design, selecting all singletons born in Denmark between 1981 and 1998 (n = 882,813). We identified exposure to infection as having been hospitalized with an infection in the Danish national registers. Data from a range of population-based registers were used to construct a childhood adversity index. The index included the following adversities: family disruption, parental incarceration, parental chronic somatic disease, death of a parent, parent permanently outside of workforce, childhood abuse and placement in out-of-home care. We also assessed parental socioeconomic status and mental illness. Multiple admissions with infections during childhood increased the risk of schizophrenia with an Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) of 1.28 (95% CI: 1.19-1.38) for 1 infection to an IRR of 1.43 (95% CI: 1.30-1.58) for 2-3 infections and an IRR of 1.95 (95% CI: 1.66-2.29) for ≥4 infections. Parental socioeconomic status and mental illness, and childhood adversities increased the odds of acquiring childhood infections and was associated with schizophrenia, but did not explain the results. Similarly did familial liability for infection increase the risk of schizophrenia, but did not explain the association between infection and schizophrenia. Parental mental health modified the association between childhood infection and schizophrenia (p-value 0.02), and we found no significant effect of childhood infection in those with propensity for psychotic disorders.

KEYWORDS:

Childhood adversity; Childhood infection; Epidemiology; Schizophrenia; Sibling controls; Socioeconomic status

PMID:
31247291
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbi.2019.06.031

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