Department of Economics and Business Economics

Febrile seizures and risk of schizophrenia

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  • Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine
  • National Centre for Register-based Research
  • Centre for Clinical Pharmacology
BACKGROUND: Febrile seizure is a benign condition for most children, but experiments in animals and neuroimaging studies in humans suggest that some febrile seizures may damage the hippocampus, a brain area of possible importance in schizophrenia. METHODS: A population-based cohort of all children born in Denmark between January 1977 and December 1986 was followed until December 2001 by using data from nationwide registries. RESULTS: We followed 558,958 persons including 16,429 with a history of febrile seizures for 2.8 million person-years and identified 952 persons who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. A history of febrile seizures was associated with a 44% increased risk of schizophrenia [relative risk (RR)=1.44; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07-1.95] after adjusting for confounding factors. The association between febrile seizures and schizophrenia remained virtually unchanged when restricting the analyses to people with no history of epilepsy. A history of both febrile seizures and epilepsy was associated with a 204% increased risk of schizophrenia (RR=3.04; 95% CI, 1.36-6.79) as compared with people with no such history. CONCLUSIONS: We found a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia among persons with a history of febrile seizures. The association may be due to a damaging effect of prolonged febrile seizures on the developing brain, shared etiological factors, or confounding by unmeasured factors
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)343-349
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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