Severe infection associated with increased risk for psychotic illness

Hospital admission for infections in childhood is associated with an increased risk for being diagnosed with nonaffective psychosis later in life, research indicates.

The findings, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, suggest that this association is largely driven by bacterial and central nervous system infections and that preadolescence is a particularly susceptible time.

Researchers Åsa Blomström (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden) and colleagues found that the risk for developing nonaffective psychosis, which occurred in 4638 (0.4%) of 1,172,879 children studied, was increased a significant 10% for those who were hospitalized with an infection between the ages of 0 and 13 years.

This was after taking into account potential confounders, such as gender, season, urbanicity, parental age and psychiatric history, maternal infections, and socioeconomic status.

The increased risk associated with infection was greatest for those who had a bacterial infection, at 23%, rather than a viral or other infection, and particularly if it was contracted between the ages of 10 and 13 years (preadolescence), at 57%.