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Schizophr Res. 1997 Aug 29;26(2-3):121-5.

Maternal exposure to influenza and paranoid schizophrenia.

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


Previous research has suggested that schizophrenics exposed to influenza in the second trimester have more delusions of jealousy, delusions of reference and suspiciousness. We therefore hypothesised that the risk-increasing effect of in utero exposure to influenza would be particularly demonstrable in paranoid schizophrenia. We studied patients with an ICD diagnosis of schizophrenia in England and Wales who were born each month between 1923 and 1965 (N = 17,247. Chi-square test for trend showed that an increase in influenza exposure level during the fifth month of gestation was accompanied by an increase in the proportion of patients with paranoid schizophrenia. However, logistic regression analysis including sex, seasonality and birth period in the model resulted in the loss of any significant association between in utero exposure to influenza and the development of paranoid schizophrenia, the loss of this significance being mainly accounted for by birth period. Therefore, the association in utero exposure to influenza and subsequent development of paranoid schizophrenia we hypothesised was not supported by our data.

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