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Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;162(6):1045-56.

Mortality in offspring of parents with psychotic disorders: a critical review and meta-analysis.

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Centre for Women's Mental Health Research, University of Manchester, Williamson Bldg., Oxford Rd., Manchester M13 9PL, UK.



Mortality risk in offspring of parents with psychotic disorders is a sensitive and important topic, but evidence on which to base plans for preventive services is limited. The authors synthesized evidence for mortality risk among offspring of parents with psychotic disorders and examined potential modifiers of risk such as offspring age and parental diagnosis.


Electronic reference and citation databases were searched. Secondary analyses were carried out to generate relative risk estimates and perform post hoc statistical power calculations. A meta-analysis of the association between maternal psychotic disorder and fetal death/stillbirth was conducted.


Most of the relevant studies investigated the relationship between exposure to maternal schizophrenia and perinatal or infant mortality outcomes but were not truly population-based and lacked adequate power. Studies published since 1960 generally indicated higher than expected mortality risk in exposed offspring. Meta-analysis indicated an almost twofold higher risk of fetal death/stillbirth among offspring of women with psychoses. Notable gaps in the existing evidence include outcome beyond the first year of life, cause-specific mortality, and effects of exposure to specific parental conditions other than schizophrenia and of exposure to paternal versus maternal disorder. Etiological mechanisms are not fully understood.


Large-scale population-based studies are needed to understand mortality risk in offspring of parents with psychoses. In the absence of etiological evidence, only general preventive measures can be taken. Prevention of offspring mortality at an early age is most likely to be achieved by identification and treatment of maternal disorder and greater provision of support to these vulnerable families.

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