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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2010 Dec;198(12):870-5. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181fe7280.

Structural and psychosocial correlates of birth order anomalies in schizophrenia and homicide.

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  • 1Department of Criminal Justice, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA.


Birth order--a unique index of both neurodevelopmental and/or psychosocial factors in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorder--remains largely unexplored in violent schizophrenia. We examined whether murderers with schizophrenia would demonstrate birth order anomalies, distinguishing them from both nonviolent schizophrenia patients and murderers without schizophrenia. Self-report birth order, psychosocial history data (i.e., maternal birth age, family size, parental criminality, parental SES), and structural magnetic resonance imaging data were collected from normal controls, nonviolent schizophrenia patients, murderers with schizophrenia, murderers without schizophrenia, and murderers with psychiatric conditions other than schizophrenia at a brain hospital in Nanjing, China. Results indicated that murderers with schizophrenia were characterized by significantly increased (i.e., later) birth order compared with both nonviolent schizophrenia patients and murderers without schizophrenia. Additionally, birth order was negatively correlated with gray matter volume in key frontal subregions for schizophrenic murderers, and was negatively correlated with parental SES. Findings may suggest biological, psychosocial, or interactional trajectories which may lead to a homicidally violent outcome in schizophrenia.

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