- A large Danish registry study has linked severe childhood infection with risk for some neuropsychiatric conditions.
- The study involved children with severe infections requiring hospitalization and their contacts with hospitals because of neuropsychiatric conditions.
- The strongest links were found for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, and intellectual disability.
- Treatment for less severe infection using anti-infective agents increased risk, too.
Why this matters
- Editorial: findings are “compelling epidemiological evidence” of a link between severe infections or anti-infectious agent exposure and neuropsychiatric conditions in children .
- Hazard rate ratios (95% CIs) for specific conditions with 2-fold increased risk (all significant):
- Tic disorders: 3.33 (1.37-8.08).
- OCD: 2.74 (1.42-5.31).
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD): 3.23 (2.02-5.17).
- Anxiety disorders: 2.06 (1.63-2.60).
- Schizophrenia spectrum disorders: 1.80 (1.29-2.52).
- Intellectual disability: 3.79 (2.55-5.63).
- ADHD: 2.09 (1.78-2.46).
- Risk also increased for OCD, ODD, and tic disorders among children treated with anti-infective agents.
- Sibling analysis results supported findings of increased risks.
- Danish registry study, n=1,098,930; January 1, 1995-June 30, 2012; mean age at follow-up, 9.76 years; children had severe infections requiring hospitalization.
- Outcomes: adjusted hazard rate ratios for hospital contact for neuropsychiatric conditions.
- Funding: Lundbeck Foundation; Independent Research Fund Denmark.
- Adult-onset conditions not evaluated.
- Causation not established.