Maternal antibodies to infectious agents and risk for non-affective psychoses in the offspring--a matched case-control study

Schizophr Res. 2012 Sep;140(1-3):25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.06.035. Epub 2012 Jul 21.


Background: An increasing number of studies suggest that certain maternal infections are associated with non-affective psychoses in the offspring. Here we investigated if maternal exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) prior to delivery was associated with future diagnosis of schizophrenia or other non-affective psychoses in the offspring.

Methods: This case-control study included 198 individuals born in Sweden 1975-85, diagnosed with schizophrenia (ICD-10, F20) and other non-affective psychoses (ICD-10, F21-29) as in- or outpatients, and 524 matched controls. Specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels in archived neonatal dried blood samples from these individuals were determined by immunoassays. Reference levels were determined by prevalences among pregnant women in Sweden 1975-85. Odds ratios (OR) for schizophrenia and other non-affective psychoses were calculated, considering maternal and gestational factors as covariates.

Results: Levels of IgG directed at T. gondii corresponding to maternal exposure was associated with subsequent schizophrenia (OR=2.1, 95% CI 1.0-4.5) as were levels of IgG directed at CMV (OR=2.2, 95% CI 1.0-5.1) but not at HSV-1 or -2. There were even stronger associations with higher levels of T. gondii or CMV antibodies. There were no associations between any of the infectious agents and other non-affective psychoses.

Conclusions: This study supports findings of maternal exposure to T. gondii and schizophrenia risk in offspring, and extends the risk to also include maternal exposure to CMV. Future studies should confirm the association with CMV exposure and identify mechanisms underlying these associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood
  • Psychotic Disorders / immunology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / immunology*
  • Schizophrenia / parasitology
  • Schizophrenia / virology
  • Simplexvirus / immunology
  • Sweden
  • Toxoplasma / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin G