Neonatal antibodies to infectious agents and risk of bipolar disorder: A population-based case-control study

Preben Bo Mortensen, Carsten Bøcker Pedersen, John Joseph Mcgrath, David Michael Hougaard, Bent Nørgaard-Petersen, Ole Mors, Anders D. Børglum, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: There is a substantial evidence base linking prenatal exposure to infectious agents and an increased risk of schizophrenia. However, there has been less research examining the potential for these exposures to also contribute to risk for bipolar disorder. The aim of this study was to examine the association between neonatal markers of selected prenatal infections and risk for bipolar disorder. Methods: Using population-based Danish registers, we examined 127 individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and 127 sex and day-of-birth individually matched controls. Based on neonatal dried blood spots, we measured antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Toxoplasma gondii. Relative risks were calculated for the matched pairs when examined for optical density units for antibodies to each of the infectious agents. Results: There was no association between any of the neonatal markers of prenatal infection and risk of bipolar disorder. Conclusions: In contrast with studies of schizophrenia, our analysis does not support maternal infection with HSV-1, HSV-2, CMV, or Toxoplasma gondii as risk factors for bipolar disorder. However, larger study samples are needed, and data on, for example, specific serotypes of Toxoplasma and indicators of the timing of maternal infection are still warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-629
Number of pages6
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Dried blood spots
  • Herpes simplex virus type 1
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2
  • Toxoplasma gondii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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