The role of latitude and infections in the month-of-birth effect linked to schizophrenia.
Saatci D., Johnson T., Smee M., van Nieuwenhuizen A., Handunnetthi L.
There is an intriguing association between winter births and subsequent increased risk of schizophrenia. However, little is known about the environmental risk factors that contribute this month-of-birth effect. The aims of this study were to carry out a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the month-of-birth effect in schizophrenia and to explore possible factors such as latitude, daylight and infections that could explain this epidemiological observation. Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library were searched for articles published up to December 23, 2021. Study selection, data extraction and analysis were undertaken according to Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines. Generic inverse-variance with random effects models were used to determine the risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each month-of-birth. Associations between variables latitude and daylight were investigated using linear regression and Kendall's rank correlation coefficients were calculated assess the relationship between monthly infections rates schizophrenia births. Ten studies were included in the meta-analysis encompassing 262,188 schizophrenia patients. We identified significantly higher number of schizophrenia births in December [1.04 (95%CI 1.00-1.08)], January [1.06 (95%CI 1.03-1.1)] and February [1.03 (95%CI 1.00-1.05)]. We did not find any association between latitude and the magnitude of the month-of-birth effect. On the other hand, we found a significant negative correlation between monthly severe enterovirus cases and schizophrenia births (tau -0.57, p = 0.0099) using data from Taiwan. This highlights a role for enterovirus infections in mediating the month-of-birth effect in schizophrenia and these results carry implications for disease prevention strategies.