Minor physical anomalies and their relationship to the aetiology of schizophrenia.

K C Murphy , M J Owen


BACKGROUND Previous reports have suggested an increased prevalence of minor physical anomalies (MPAs) in schizophrenia.

METHOD A review of the literature was performed to examine the relationship between MPAs, schizophrenia and other disorders.

RESULTS Previous studies demonstrate a number of methodological shortcomings. Moreover, MPAs are found in several other psychiatric disorders. Proponents of the neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia have focused on an environmental explanation for the increased prevalence of MPAs. We argue that this may be overly simplistic and propose various ways in which genetic factors may also be involved.

CONCLUSIONS Better studies should be performed to examine more precisely the nature of MPAs in schizophrenia and other disorders and also the relationship between MPAs and other developmental abnormalities. At present, it is unclear if MPAs are directly related to the pathogenesis of the disorder or even if they are related to the timing of critical events.