A child’s risk of schizophrenia later in life can depend in part on the level of thyroid hormone in the mother according to a new study undertaken by researchers from several schools and universities. Women who have low thyroxine levels during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a child who develops cognitive abnormalities later are which are similar to the abnormalities seen in patients with schizophrenia. The study data and results were published in the Biological Psychiatry journal. This hormone deficiency is also related to schizophrenia in another way as well, because preterm birth is a schizophrenia risk factor and it can be caused by low thyroxine levels. The study used archived serum samples taken from pregnant mothers who participated in the Finnish Maternity Cohort.
1,010 samples were included from moms whose children had schizophrenia, and 1,010 samples were from moms in the control group whose child did not have this mental disorder. All of the serum samples were collected during either the first or second trimester of the pregnancy. The thyroid hormone levels in 11.8% of the schizophrenia cases were low while only 8.6% of the control group mothers had low levels of this hormone. According to Columbia University Medical Center professor of psychiatry epidemiology and senior author of the study Dr. Alan Brown “This work adds to a body of literature suggesting that maternal influences, both environmental and genetic, contribute to the risk of schizophrenia. Although replication in independent studies is required before firm conclusions can be drawn, the study was based on a national birth cohort with a large sample size, increasing the plausibility of the findings.”