Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Researchers in Denmark found that newborns with vitamin D deficiency have a 44 percent greater risk of developing schizophrenia.
The study, published Thursday in Nature, examined vitamin D concentration in blood samples from 2,602 newborns collected between 1981 and 2000 who later were diagnosed as schizophrenics.
"Schizophrenia is a group of poorly understood brain disorders characterized by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and cognitive impairment," John McGrath, a professor at The University of Queensland and study co-author, said in a news release.
Although McGrath acknowledges that schizophrenia has many different risk factors, both genetic and environmental, multiple studies point to a vitamin D deficiency as a primary cause.
In fact, McGrath thinks vitamin D deficiency could account for approximately 8 percent of Denmark's schizophrenia cases.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 5 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia die from suicide.
"The next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplements in pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient, in order to examine the impact on child brain development and risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia," McGrath said.