Infections requiring hospitalization or treatment with anti-infective agents are associated with an increased subsequent risk for mental disorders, according to a study published online Dec. 5 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Ole Köhler-Forsberg, M.D., from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues examined the correlation between all treated infections since birth and the subsequent risk for developing any treated mental disorder during childhood and adolescence using Danish nationwide registers. Data were included for all 1,098,930 individuals born in Denmark between Jan. 1, 1995, and June 30, 2012, with 9,620,807.7 person-years of follow up until a mean age of 9.76 years.
The researchers found that infections requiring hospitalizations correlated with a subsequent increased risk for being diagnosed with any mental disorder (hazard rate ratio, 1.84) and with an increased risk for redeeming a prescription for psychotropic medication (hazard rate ratio, 1.42). These risks were attenuated but still significantly increased for infections treated with anti-infective agents (hazard rate ratios, 1.40 and 1.22, respectively). Risk estimates were particularly increased with antibiotic use. The risk for mental disorders after infection increased in a dose-response association based on the number of infections. The risk was also associated with time since infection; it was highest immediately after infection and remained increased up to 10 years after infection.
"A better understanding of the role of infections and antimicrobial therapy in the pathogenesis of mental disorders might lead to new methods for the prevention and treatment of these devastating disorders," the authors write.