The British Journal of Psychiatry

Abstract

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

METHOD 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.

RESULTS 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.

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