This is the first study that points to maternal food intolerances as a possible culprit in the development of such disorders. The research not only underscores the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and its lifelong effects on the offspring, but also suggests one potential cheap and easy way to reduce risk if we were to find further proof that gluten intolerance exacerbates or drives up schizophrenia risk.
The team's findings are based on an examination of 764 birth records and neonatal blood samples of babies born between 1975 and 1985. Some 211 of them subsequently developed non-affective psychoses, such as schizophrenia and delusional disorders.
Using stored neonatal blood samples, the investigators measured levels of IgG antibodies to milk and wheat. Because a mother's antibodies cross the placenta during pregnancy to confer immunity to the baby, a newborn's elevated IgG levels are proof of protein sensitivity in the mother.
Children born to mothers with abnormally high levels of antibodies to the wheat protein gluten had nearly twice the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, compared with children who had normal levels of gluten antibodies. The link persisted even after researchers accounted for other factors known to increase schizophrenia risk, including maternal age, gestational age, mode of delivery and the mother's immigration status.
Researchers in the past also have observed that people diagnosed with schizophrenia have disproportionately high rates celiac disease. Other studies have found that some people with schizophrenia have gluten intolerance without other signs of celiac disease.
Bonnie: a plea to women thinking about getting pregnant or are newly pregnant. If you know that you have a gluten intolerance, please avoid it during this period. By not increasing your IgG blood levels, as well as keeping negative genes from expressing themselves, you are giving your child a much better outcome for disease prevention.