Researchers have discovered a link between nutritional deficiency in the fetus and schizophrenia, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This means that the current famine in the African country of Niger will lead to a large number of schizophrenics.
In this debilitating disease, which usually manifests in adolescence, patients hear voices in their head telling them to do things. It has also been thought that schizophrenia has to do with pregnant women not receiving enough vitamin D from sunlight, since in the UK, many Nigerian women gave birth to children who developed this disease, probably because their bodies were used to more sunlight. In current DNA studies, a gene has been discovered that predisposes people to getting it.
The link was discovered because people born during a famine in China had an increased risk of the disorder. An earlier study found twice the risk of schizophrenia among children conceived during a food shortage in Holland in 1944-1945. Dr. David St. Clair, one of the authors of the JAMA article, says, "Our study strongly supports the view that prenatal exposure to famine increases the risk of schizophrenia in later life."
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