Developmental Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Schizophrenia: A 10-Year Update
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There is an urgent need to generate and test candidate risk factors that may explain gradients in the incidence of schizophrenia. Based on clues from epidemiology, we proposed that developmental vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia. This hypothesis may explain diverse epidemiological findings including season of birth, the latitude gradients in incidence and prevalence, the increased risk in dark-skinned migrants to certain countries, and the urban-rural gradient. Animal experiments demonstrate that transient prenatal hypovitaminosis D is associated with persisting changes in brain structure and function, including convergent evidence of altered dopaminergic function. A recent case-control study based on neonatal blood samples identified a significant association between neonatal vitamin D status and risk of schizophrenia. This article provides a concise summary of the epidemiological and animal experimental research that has explored this hypothesis.