The British Journal of Psychiatry


We examined the relationship between the dates of births of schizophrenic patients admitted to hospitals for the first time in England and Wales between 1970 and 1979, and the occurrence of influenza epidemics between 1939 and 1960. Our results indicate that exposure to influenza epidemics between the third and seventh month of gestation is associated with schizophrenia in adult life. The hypothesis that maternal viral infection is an important cause of schizophrenia can explain many aspects of the enigmatic epidemiology of the condition.