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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2005;7(1):69-80.

Environmental risk factors for psychosis.

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Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


Genetic factors are clearly important in the etiology of schizophrenia, but the environment in which an individual's genes find expression is also crucial to the development of the illness. In this review of environmental risk factors for schizophrenia, we consider risks operating prenatally and perinatally, during childhood, and then later in life prior to illness onset Some of these risk factors have been well documented, for example, early hazards causing fetal growth retardation or hypoxia, and hazards nearer the onset of illness like drug abuse and migration. Others are much less certain. The importance of interaction between genetic and environmental risk is, however, undoubtedly important and there is emerging evidence for this from a range of sources. As the etiology of schizophrenia is unraveled, the picture becomes more complex, but also more obviously relevant to the plight of the individual patient.

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