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Br J Psychiatry. 1995 Jun;166(6):734-41.

Antecedents of schizophrenia and affective illness. Obstetric complications.

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Psychology Division, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Herts.



This exploratory study seeks to generate new hypotheses about the relationship between obstetric complications and schizophrenia.


The British Perinatal Mortality Survey represents 98% of all births during one week in March 1958 in Great Britain. Present State Examination (PSE), Catego diagnoses of narrowly defined schizophrenia (n = 49), broadly defined schizophrenia (n = 79), affective psychosis (n = 44) and neurosis (n = 93) were derived from case notes for all cohort members. The remainder of the cohort, surviving the perinatal period, acted as controls (n = 16 812). Variables in the British Perinatal Mortality Survey were grouped into five categories: the physique/lifestyle of the mother (including demographic characteristics), her obstetric history, the current pregnancy, the delivery and the condition of the baby.


There were 7/17 significant differences in maternal physique/lifestyle and obstetric history between the births of schizophrenics and controls, compared to 4/40 comparisons of somatic variables relating to pregnancy, birth and the condition of the baby. This compares with 4/17 and 7/40 for affective psychotics and a total of 4/57 differences for all categories of variables when neurotics were contrasted with controls.


The purported increased risk of obstetric complications in schizophrenics may result from the physique/lifestyle of their mothers.

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