Sunday, June 19, 2005

Epilepsy linked to risk of schizophrenia

This study finding fits into one of my interests - how the brain works. The results of the study seems very preliminary to me, but is intriguing and in a credible journal, the British Medical Journal. You can find the abstract at

The press statement from the editors at the BMJ states that persons with a history of epilepsy are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychosis, concludes a study published online by the BMJ today. The authors suggest that the two conditions may share common genetic or environmental causes.

The study was really large, involving 2.27 million people who were born in Denmark between 1950 and 1987, and were identified from national registers. Personal and family histories of epilepsy and psychosis were obtained, and individuals were monitored for up to 25 years.

The team found that people with a history of epilepsy had nearly two and a half times the risk of developing schizophrenia and nearly three times the risk of developing a schizophrenia-like psychosis compared with the general population. The risk was the same for men and women but increased with age.

"This finding suggests that genetic or environmental factors shared by family members may have an important role," researchers stated. The study was led by the National Centre for Register-based Research, University of Aarhus in Denmark.

Scientists have so much more to learn about the brain, but advances in research tools such as the new funding by the NIH to study high-tech screening methods to identify small molecules will help. The NIH states that "small molecules have great potential to help scientists in their efforts to learn more about key biological processes involved in human health and disease."

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