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Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Feb;182:117-22.

Migration as a risk factor for schizophrenia: a Danish population-based cohort study.

Author information

  • 1Lund University, Malmö, Sweden. elizabeth.cantor-graae@smi.mas.lu.se



A growing body of evidence suggests that migration is a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia, although the putative mechanism remains obscure.


To examine immigrant background and history of foreign residence as risk factors for schizophrenia.


Using data from the Danish Civil Registration System, we established a population-based cohort of 2.14 million persons resident in Denmark by their fifteenth birthday. Schizophrenia in cohort members and parental psychiatric disorder were identified by cross-linkage with the Danish Psychiatric Case Register.


The relative risk of developing schizophrenia was 2.45 (95% Cl 2.25-2.67) and 1.92 (95% Cl 1.74-2.12) among first- and second-generation immigrants respectively, and 1.60 (95% Cl 1.25-2.05) among Danes with a history of foreign residence.


Migration confers an increased risk for schizophrenia that is not solely attributable to selection factors and may also be independent of foreign birth.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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