Schizophrenia Day, Part 2

Continuing Schizophrenia Day here at, we have news from Scientific American that schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders may be caused by infections:

Doctors have known for many years that microbes such as syphilis and Streptococcus can, if left untreated, lead to serious psychiatric problems. Now a growing number of scientists are proposing that microbes are to blame for several mental illnesses once thought to have neurological or psychological defects at their roots. The strongest evidence pertains to schizophrenia, but autism, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder have also been linked to bacterial, viral or parasitic infections in utero, in childhood or in maturity. Some of these infections can directly affect the brain, whereas others might trigger immune reactions that interfere with brain development or perhaps even attack our own brain cells in an autoimmune mistake.

Blame it on the cytokines.

As mentioned in the article, if this theory is right, then the CDC’s recommendation that all pregnant women get flu shots (thus inducing an immune response) might be causing more problems than it solves. Ah, science. Messy, messy science.

(via MetaFilter.)