CNS infection in childhood does not confer risk for later schizophrenia: a case-control study

Schizophr Res. 2010 Dec;124(1-3):231-5. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2010.08.025. Epub 2010 Sep 16.


Objective: The hypothesized role of CNS infection during childhood in increasing later risk of brain malfunction manifested as schizophrenia has been supported by some but not other studies. We sought to contribute to this debate by linking data on persons who had been hospitalized for meningitis as children, with a National Psychiatric Hospitalization Registry.

Method: Data were gathered on 3599 persons who had been hospitalized for a CNS infection before the age of 16, and 6371 controls who had been hospitalized as children for gastroenteritis. Both groups were followed for later hospitalization for schizophrenia between 1970 and 2007 using the Israeli National Psychiatric Hospitalization Case Registry. Data were analyzed using Cox regression analyses.

Results: The mean age of the subjects at hospitalization for a CNS infection was 3.4 ± 3.6 years, mean age of the subjects at follow up was 29.3 ± 6.0 years. Compared to controls, hospitalization for any CNS infection during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of later hospitalization for schizophrenia, adjusted HR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.5-1.32.

Conclusions: Overall there was no significant association between childhood CNS infection and schizophrenia. These data do not support the presence of an infectious etiology of schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Central Nervous System Infections / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Infections / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors