Toxoplasma gondii as a Risk Factor for Early-Onset Schizophrenia: Analysis of Filter Paper Blood Samples Obtained at Birth

Preben Bo Mortensen, Bent Nørgaard-Pedersen, Berit Lindum Waltoft, Tina L. Sørensen, David Hougaard, E. Fuller Torrey, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Background: Infections during fetal life or neonatal period, including infections with Toxoplasma gondii, may be associated with a risk for schizophrenia and other mental disorders. The objectives of this study were to study the association between serological markers for maternal and neonatal infection and the risk for schizophrenia, related psychoses, and affective disorders in a national cohort of newborns. Methods: This study was a cohort-based, case-control study combining data from national population registers and patient registers and a national neonatal screening biobank in Denmark. Patients included persons born in Denmark in 1981 or later followed up through 1999 with respect to inpatient or outpatient treatment for schizophrenia or related disorders (ICD-10 F2) or affective disorders (ICD-10 F3). Results: Toxoplasma gondii immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels corresponding to the upper quartile among control subjects were significantly associated with schizophrenia risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.79, p = .045) after adjustment for urbanicity of place of birth, year of birth, gender, and psychiatric diagnoses among first-degree relatives. There was no significant association between any marker of infection and other schizophrenia-like disorders or affective disorders. Conclusions: Our study supports an association between Toxoplasma gondii and early-onset schizophrenia. Further studies are needed to establish if the association is causal and if it generalizes to cases with onset after age 18.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-693
Number of pages6
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007


  • Affective disorder
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • neonatal
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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