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Schizophr Res. 2002 Apr 1;54(3):199-212.

Long-term trends in sunshine duration and its association with schizophrenia birth rates and age at first registration--data from Australia and the Netherlands.

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Queensland Centre for Schizophrenia Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland, Wolston Park Hospital, Q4076, Wacol, Australia.



Based on the well-described excess of schizophrenia births in winter and spring, we hypothesised that individuals with schizophrenia (a) would be more likely to be born during periods of decreased perinatal sunshine, and (b) those born during periods of less sunshine would have an earlier age of first registration.


We undertook an ecological analysis of long-term trends in perinatal sunshine duration and schizophrenia birth rates based on two mental health registers (Queensland, Australia n=6630; The Netherlands n=24,474). For each of the 480 months between 1931 and 1970, the agreement between slopes of the trends in psychosis and long-term sunshine duration series were assessed. Age at first registration was assessed by quartiles of long-term trends in perinatal sunshine duration. Males and females were assessed separately.


Both the Dutch and Australian data showed a statistically significant association between falling long-term trends in sunshine duration around the time of birth and rising schizophrenia birth rates for males only. In both the Dutch and Australian data there were significant associations between earlier age of first registration and reduced long-term trends in sunshine duration around the time of birth for both males and females.


A measure of long-term trends in perinatal sunshine duration was associated with two epidemiological features of schizophrenia in two separate data sets. Exposures related to sunshine duration warrant further consideration in schizophrenia research.

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