The British Journal of Psychiatry


Serum antibody titres to eight neurotropic viruses were measured by enzyme immunoassay in 450 psychiatric in-patients and 143 controls. A seasonal variation in schizophrenic births was observed, with a peak incidence between March and April. Both herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus antibody titres correlated with age and, when this was controlled for, no significant differences emerged between any patient group and the controls. Mumps antibody titres were significantly lower in patients with mental subnormal and neurosis or personality disorder; measles and rubella antibody titres were lower in male but not female mentally handicapped patients; males had lower antibody titres to mumps, cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus than females in all groups. A decrease in mumps antibody titres was also found in schizophrenics if the medication factor was excluded. These low antibody titres may indicate an impaired immune response. Thus perinatal or childhood subclinical viral infections of the central nervous system, particularly of mumps, might lead to a range of possible psychiatric outcomes in later life.