Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maternal iron and schizophrenia

Although schizophrenia usually begins in adolescence or young adulthood there are a number of theories which suggest its roots are in early childhood or even before. Fetal hypoxia (a lack of oxygen for the child developing in the womb) and maternal nutritional deficiencies have both been implicated but nobody has looked at the role of mother's iron levels despite the fact that iron is essential for a number of processes within the developing brain. Researchers in the U.S. looked at blood tests from 6,872 pregnant women taken between 1959 and 1967 and looked to see whether their children had developed schizophrenia between 1981 and 1997. The children of mothers with a low concentration of iron in their bloodstream had a nearly fourfold increase in their risk of developing schizophrenia and the more iron there was in the mother's bloodstream, the less their children's chance of developing schizophrenia was.

Insel, Beverley J. ... [et al] - Maternal iron deficiency and the risk of schizophrenia in offspring Archives of General Psychiatry October 2008, 65(10), 1136-1144

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